Ontmeta8. On the impossibility of definition
- 1 Discussion
- 2 Introduction
- 3 Two parts to all definitions: definiendum and definiens
- 4 Intensional definitions
- 5 Extensional definitions
- 6 Types of definitions
- 7 Candidates for cannot be defined
- 8 Why none of the above proves it is impossible to define jazz
- 8.1 Jazz and types of definitions
- 8.2 Jazz is not in the list of the undefinables listed above
- 8.2.1 Primitives
- 8.2.2 Undefined predicate
- 8.2.3 Bertrand Russell's logical simples
- 8.2.4 Scholastic's highest genera
- 8.2.5 John Locke's simple concepts
- 8.2.6 Proper names have no intension only extension
- 8.2.7 Primary substance, or proper name
- 9 Jazz in Aristotle's ontology
- 10 A Study of Aristotle's Four Ontological Predications
- 11 Actions as primary and secondary
- 12 Wittgenstein's Family resemblance problem and defining jazz
- 13 Musical genres cannot be defined using ONLY geographical or biographical information
- 14 NOTES
Clearly there needs to be an agreement or understanding on what kind of definitions are being discussed for clearly presenting arguments as to whether any definitions are impossible to produce, especially with respect to jazz.
Two parts to all definitions: definiendum and definiens
To make it easier to refer to two different aspects of a definition it is helpful to introduce terminology that distinguishes between these two aspects. In absolutely every definition there are the word or words being used to do the defining and this aspect of a definition is called the definiens. The word or words to be defined is called the definiendum.
One of the purposes of a definition is for a language user/concept understander to be able to distinguish members of the class falling under the scope of the definiendum/definiens compatible with the language/concept user's understanding of the intuitive conception of what constitutes members that meet the characteristics specified in the definiens as it has been used in the past.
“Proper Form: Ideally, a definition’s definiens will include both a genus and a differentia (lists of examples do not exhibit proper form!)
- Genus: The broader class to which a defined concept belongs.
- Differentia: The features that set the defined concept apart from other members of its genus.
- Even if a definition has no counterexamples, a definition might nevertheless fail to focus on just the right characteristic that makes something belong to a certain concept. That is, definitions need to be based upon essential characteristics.
- Definitions ought to avoid metaphor and obscurity.
- Definitions ought to avoid circularity (placing the defined concept or one of its cognates in the definition).
- Finally, we ought (as much as possible) to avoid negative definitions (those that attempt to define a concept by specifying what the defined concept is not).” (bold not in original)
➢ Could any language competent society be wrong about the meaning and or the referents/extension of their own language's terms?
The answer to the question is definitely yes. The language users could all believe things about both the intension and the extension of a term and have false beliefs about them. For example, consider the definition and number of stomachs had by a cow 🐄.
At Dictionary from 1840 definition of cattle it proclaims the animals have four stomachs. This turns out to be false--they only have one stomach with four compartments. As long as the majority (or all of the) language users believe the definition that cows have four stomachs, then they (all) have false beliefs about the properties of actual cows. Furthermore, should they determine which objects fall under the definiens using the characteristics of cows containing four stomachs, then no actual cows would be included within the extension of this term since none of the actual cows have four stomachs. This proves everybody could be wrong about the intension and the extension of the term "cow."
The format of a well written definition breaks a definition down into two parts, as shown below:
- category of concept + differentiating characteristics
Or, in more scientific terms
- genus + differentia
- This defines the category or class your concept fits into. In essence, you are relating the term to its broader category so that your audience says “Yeah, I know what those are".
Differentiating Characteristics (differentia):
- These are the specific characteristics that set your term apart from other terms within that category. Once you’ve related your term to the broader category, now you are saying “Well, it’s like those things, but with these differences.” Most often, the category of the concept is presented first, followed by the differentiating characteristics. Other types of definitions will lead with what differentiates the concept and then show how it fits into the broader category. (bold and bold italic not in original)
“The extension of a predicate is the class of objects that it describes: the extension of ‘red’ is the class of red things. The intension is the principle under which it picks them out, or in other words the condition a thing must satisfy to be truly described by the predicate.”
Intensional definitions have a general category portion of the definition followed by differentiators that distinguish the objects of this particular more specifically than the first general category portion. In the case of defining jazz, the first general category portion of a definition would include that it is a musical genre created in the United States around the turn of the 20th century by an underprivileged societal underclass. Yet this definition holds for the genre of music known as the blues as well, so then we need more detailed information provided in the differentia to distinguish jazz from all other musical genres that satisfy the initial general categories.
Intensional definitions supply necessary and sufficient conditions that set out to specify a clearly defined set of properties. The advantage of an intensional definition is that it refers to properties had by the things falling under the definition without a need to specify which objects in particular are being referred to specifically, such as that zebra at the San Diego zoo over there in the corner.
Opposed to intensional definitions, extensional ones list the members of the relevant group of things being defined. The lists can be a complete enumeration or an incomplete one where the list is incomplete because examples of the definiendum are missing. The incomplete enumeration definiens strives to list enough examples of the type to inform a reader what objects are included within this concept. A complete enumeration example would be defining West Pacific States of the United States consisting only of the five states of America touching the Pacific Ocean, namely, California, Oregon, Washington, Hawaii, and Alaska.
An objection to any extensional type of definition that merely lists objects is that the definition does not have any way of accounting for why those particulars objects fall under the definition other than assertion. No one can learn what it is about each of the objects that makes it have feature(s) shared by every other object in the list. Intensional definitions do supply information through the specification of what features or properties every member of the relevant class has such that we can understand why each member of the extension has been included in the extension of the term. What is it about all of the examples that makes them each of the same type?
Another difficulty for an extensional definition that is supposed to list members of the class referred to is when there are a large number of objects, such as zebras, where all past, present, and future zebras would need to be listed in a complete enumeration and those past and future zebras are impossible to know about, or when there are an infinite number of objects such as trying to list all of the natural numbers.
Jazz can easily be defined by an incomplete extensional definition
Extensional definitions are a well established practice amongst definitional types. Incomplete extensional definitions that fail to include all possible candidates that fall under the definiendum (word or words to be defined) are also an established definitional practice. Therefore, it is easy to define jazz extensionally with an incomplete definition—just list a bunch of indisputably paradigmatic examples of jazz performances.
Let's try to define jazz in this way. In fact, in effect, this has already been achieved by Paul Rinzler's Onion model of jazz where he has three categories of jazz inclusion that could fall under an extensional definition. On Rinzler's Onion model at the CORE of the onion are all jazz performances that are indisputably counted by all concerned parties as definitely being jazz. The next outer layer are performances that are included within the jazz canon, but are sometimes disputed by some critics. The third outermost layer are the most highly contested possible musical performances that may or not be jazz.
An incomplete extensional definition of jazz could start by listing all of the jazz performances included in the Smithsonian's list of outstanding examples of jazz music. You can see the list of Smithsonian Anthology jazz tracks here at PoJ.fm.
Types of definitions
|Types of definitions|
| Analytic philosophers often discuss the meaning, function, and possibility of offering definitions. Brian Leiter, as quoted at Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy, explains that analytic philosophy now designates more of a style of doing philosophy than supportive of any one particular philosophical position, as it is now in its fifth phase.
“During the 1960s, criticism from within and without caused the analytic movement to abandon its linguistic form. Linguistic philosophy gave way to the philosophy of language, the philosophy of language gave way to metaphysics, and this gave way to a variety of philosophical sub-disciplines. Thus the fifth phase, beginning in the mid 1960s and continuing beyond the end of the twentieth century, is characterized by eclecticism or pluralism. This post-linguistic analytic philosophy cannot be defined in terms of a common set of philosophical views or interests, but it can be loosely characterized in terms of its style, which tends to emphasize precision and thoroughness about a narrow topic and to deemphasize the imprecise or cavalier discussion of broad topics.” (bold and bold italic not in original)
It is typical in university logic textbooks to distinguish a number of different kinds and techniques of definition as listed below, including:
- A lexical definition states how a term is already used within a language. The goal is to provide the accepted meaning of the term, so the definition is more or less correct depending upon the accuracy with which it captures that usage. To some extent then, the reporting of how the term is used in context to other words in a particular language avoids the circularity problem since it provides the learner of the definition with how he or she or they should talk about the thing(s) being defined.
- For various reasons the other four besides lexical are not helpful in defining jazz since they do not end up informing us as to the nature of jazz. Here's why.
- Sometimes a term needs a definition relative to a specific context or type of discourse. In these cases a stipulative definition can be used to take a new or currently-existing term and specify a new meaning for the purposes of argument or discussion in a given context. If a term already exists with a lexical definition, this new stipulative definition may, but does not necessarily, contradict the previously used lexical one. However, precisely because it has been stipulated as to what it is going to mean in a particular context, the stipulative definition cannot be "correct" or "incorrect"; it just differs from other definitions, but it may turn out to be useful for its intended purpose(s).
- Since philosophers of jazz desire any definition of jazz be true because the definition is supposed to pick out all and only jazz items a stipulative definition should not be used. Notice that jazz could be satisfactorily defined using a stipulative definition so long as no one was concerned about whether or not that definition were actually true of jazz phenomena.
- Users of persuasive definitions claim to describe the true or commonly accepted meaning of a term while in reality stipulating an uncommon or altered use usually involving emotionally charged language so as to move the listener towards or against something. As a consequence, persuasive definitions necessarily contain irrelevant properties independent of the actual features of the item being defined. Wikipedia: Persuasive definitions explains that:
“A persuasive definition is a form of stipulative definition which purports to describe the true or commonly accepted meaning of a term, while in reality stipulating an uncommon or altered use, usually to support an argument for some view, or to create or alter rights, duties or crimes. The terms thus defined will often involve emotionally charged but imprecise notions, such as "freedom", "terrorism", "democracy", etc. . . . Persuasive definitions commonly appear in controversial topics such as politics, sex, and religion, as participants in emotionally charged exchanges will sometimes become more concerned about swaying people to one side or another than expressing the unbiased facts. A persuasive definition of a term is favorable to one argument or unfavorable to the other argument, but is presented as if it were neutral and well-accepted, and the listener is expected to accept such a definition without question.” (bold not in original)
Therefore, persuasive definitions should not be used to define or characterize jazz because they will always contain things irrelevant to jazz as a phenomena. Philosophers of jazz desire any definition for jazz be neutral and well-accepted and expressing only unbiased features of jazz itself and these are absent from all persuasive definitions.
- Operational definitions specify a procedure that when executed determines the applicability of the concept defined.
Operational definitions are often used to define features that are dispositional,i.e., physical inclinations or tendencies, because they lend themselves well to an operational approach. Concepts such as "soluble", "malleable", "fragile", or "lovable," each of which indicates a capability so are sometimes called "disposition terms."
For example, one could operationally define "soluble" by using this operational definition:
- A solid S is "soluble" if (sufficient condition) and only if (necessary condition) whenever S is put into water, it dissolves.
Generalizing, the general form of an operational definition for defining property P would be:
- Any object O of class C has property P if and only if whenever O is tested by a prescribed procedure (i.e., a sequence of operations), test result R is observed determining that O has property P.
It would be convenient if one could produce an operational definition for picking out jazz. Unfortunately the logical form of an operational definition is given in terms of a test that when executed lists a set of sufficient and necessary conditions for music to qualify as jazz. Controversy abounds when jazz theorists purport to provide necessary and sufficient conditions for jazz.
Most theorists do not find either swing or improvisation to qualify as either necessary or sufficient for music to be jazz. Jazz exists that does not swing and swing music exists that is not jazz. Similarly for the feature of improvisation since some jazz exists that is not improvised and some improvised music is not jazz. For more discussion regarding these points see Ontdef3. Are there any necessary conditions for playing jazz? and Ontdef3. What are not sufficient conditions for playing jazz?.
➢ What are the ontological circumstances that would make it impossible to define something?
Since all natural languages contain only a finite number of words any list of definitions can only either be circular or contain undefined primitive concepts.
Wikipedia: Definition delineates some of the limitations definitions can have.
“Given that a natural language such as English contains, at any given time, a finite number of words, any comprehensive list of definitions must either be circular or rely upon primitive notions. If every term of every definiens must itself be defined, "where at last should we stop?" A dictionary, for instance, insofar as it is a comprehensive list of lexical definitions, must resort to circularity.
Many philosophers have chosen instead to leave some terms undefined. The scholastic philosophers claimed that the highest genera (called the ten generalissima) cannot be defined, since a higher genus cannot be assigned under which they may fall. Thus being, unity and similar concepts cannot be defined. Locke supposes in An Essay Concerning Human Understanding that the names of simple concepts do not admit of any definition. More recently Bertrand Russell sought to develop a formal language based on logical atoms. Other philosophers, notably Wittgenstein, rejected the need for any undefined simples. Wittgenstein pointed out in his Philosophical Investigations that what counts as a "simple" in one circumstance might not do so in another. He rejected the very idea that every explanation of the meaning of a term needed itself to be explained: "As though an explanation hung in the air unless supported by another one", claiming instead that explanation of a term is only needed to avoid misunderstanding.
(John) Locke and (John Stuart) Mill also argued that individuals cannot be defined. Names are learned by connecting an idea with a sound, so that speaker and hearer have the same idea when the same word is used. This is not possible when no one else is acquainted with the particular thing that has "fallen under our notice." Russell offered his theory of descriptions in part as a way of defining a proper name, the definition being given by a definite description that "picks out" exactly one individual. Saul Kripke pointed to difficulties with this approach, especially in relation to modality, in his book Naming and Necessity.
There is a presumption in the classic example of a definition that the definiens can be stated. Wittgenstein argued that for some terms this is not the case. The examples he used include game, number and family. In such cases, he argued, there is no fixed boundary that can be used to provide a definition. Rather, the items are grouped together because of a family resemblance. For terms such as these it is not possible and indeed not necessary to state a definition; rather, one simply comes to understand the use of the term.” (bold not in original)
Candidates for cannot be defined
A primitive is taken as having its meaning already determined and not required to have a definition in order to avoid the circularity problem in justifying the correctness of meaning. The game of Vish named with a shortened expression for vicious circle ⭕️ where the winner of a round returns to the word given to be defined, reveals that any comprehensive dictionary ends up defining everything in relationship to the words already found in the dictionary. In logic, there are two uses of the phrase. A vicious circle can mean a mistake in reasoning, i.e., a fallacy, where the truth of the premise is used to prove the truth of its conclusion which is then used as a premise to establish the truth of the first premise. Also, it is called circular reasoning because it takes the form of an invalid argument where the truth of its conclusion depends upon the truth of a premise which itself depends for its truth on that of the conclusion's truth. Alternately, vicious circles occur when a definition of a word is given by another which is in turn defined by the first, as in "sleep inducing" means "soporific" and versa-visa. If you don't already know what sleep means you cannot know what is being induced, and because the terms are synonymous, i.e., equivalent in meaning, one would not know the meaning of "soporific" either.
“Why is vicious circular reasoning unacceptable and fatal? Genuine method proceeds from the known to the unknown. Vicious circular reasoning proceeds from the known to the equally known. Vicious circular reasoning, therefore, violates genuine method. Vicious circular reasoning does not add anything new, it does not advance learning, and it does not add to knowledge. Vicious circular reasoning goes nowhere and leads nowhere—hence, its descriptive name “circular”. It literally moves in a circuit or a circle.” (bold and bold italic not in original)
Need for undefined predicates
In a philosophically revolutionary paper, "The Square Circle," philosopher Staffan Angere establishes that square circles can exist as a perfectly legitimate, well defined, and non-self-contradictory item. At the end of his paper he concludes that there is a need for undefined predicates.
“Very few theories or concepts can be reduced to purely logical ones, and therefore we will always need undefined predicates, whose interpretation will remain open outside the narrow confines in which they have been learnt or introduced. (bold not in original)
Discuss the cobbled together as a non-natural kind, such as defining a swanado as anything that is either a swan or a tornado. What is the status? Is there something to be defined?
- See McKeown-Green and Justine Kingsbury on Disjunctive definitions.
So you can define non-natural kinds.
Have I defined anything if I say "Cringo" is defined as the next five thoughts that I have?
Discuss how you CAN define the mysterious, the amorphous, the mystical, the undefinable, and especially the ineffable!
Can self-contradictory things be defined?
- Is there a definition for a round-square?
If God is omniscient, is there anything he cannot define?
In an axiomatic system elements of the axioms themselves cannot also be defined because it is the axioms that are being used to establish the meanings contained in the definiens.
Bertrand Russell's logical simples
In the 1950's British philosopher Bertrand Russell (1872-1970) developed a formal language based on logical atoms that were undefinable since they were the atoms out of which all other definitions in the language were based.
A student of Russell's, Ludwig Wittgenstein (1889-1951), rejected any need for undefined (logical) simples. He remarks in his Philosophical Investigations that what counts as a "simple" in one context might not so count in a different circumstance. Wittgenstein thought that every explanation of the meaning of a term may not be needed so long as one avoids misunderstandings or miscommunications.
Scholastic's highest genera
Scholastic philosophers claimed that the highest genera known as the ten generalissima cannot be defined because a higher genus cannot be assigned under which they may fall. Thus being, unity and similar concepts cannot be defined.
“According to Aristotle, every genus must be differentiated by some differentia that falls outside that genus. Hence, if being were a genus, it would have to be differentiated by a differentia that fell outside of it. In other words, being would have to be differentiated by some non-being, which, according to Aristotle, is a metaphysical absurdity. Although he does not explicitly make this claim, Aristotle's argument, if cogent, would generalize to any proposal for a single highest kind. Hence, he does not think that there is one single highest kind. Instead, he thinks that there are ten: (1) substance; (2) quantity; (3) quality; (4) relatives; (5) somewhere; (6) sometime; (7) being in a position; (8) having; (9) acting; and (10) being acted upon (1b25–2a4). I shall discuss the first four of these kinds in detail in a moment. But doing so will take us into matters that, while interesting, nonetheless distract from the general nature of the scheme. So I will first discuss some of the general structures inherent in Aristotle's second system of classification, and then proceed to a more detailed discussion.
In addition to positing ten highest kinds, Aristotle also has views about the structure of such kinds. Each kind is differentiated into species by some set of differentiae. In fact, the essence of any species, according to Aristotle, consists in its genus and the differentia that together with that genus defines the species. (It is for this reason that the highest kinds are, strictly speaking, indefinable—because there is no genus above a highest kind, one cannot define it in terms of its genus and a differentia.) Some of the species in various categories are also genera—they are, in other words differentiated into further species. But at some point, there is a lowest species that is not further differentiated. Under these species, we can suppose, fall the particulars that belong to that species.” (bold not in original)
“According to this principle, the definition of a thing will include the definitions of its parts.
In a way, this consequence of the principle seems very plausible, given Aristotle’s idea that it is universals that are definable (Ζ.11, 1036a29). Consider as a definiendum a universal, such as man, and its definiens, rational animal. The parts of this definiens are the universals rational and animal. If these parts are, in turn, definable, then each should be replaced, in the definition of man, with its own definition, and so on. In this way the complete and adequate definition of a universal such as man will contain no parts that are further definable. All proper, or completely analyzed, definitions are ultimately composed of simple terms that are not further definable. (bold not in original)
John Locke's simple concepts
Locke maintains in An Essay Concerning Human Understanding that the names of simple concepts cannot be defined.
Simple concepts are already at their lowest denominator so that they themselves have no parts to characterize.
Proper names have no intension only extension
John Locke (1632-1704) and John Stuart Mill (1806-1873) and three hundred years later Saul Kripke (b. 1940) also argued that proper names have no connotations or intentional meanings so cannot be defined using them. Names are learned by connecting an idea with a sound, so that speaker and hearer have the same idea when the same word is used. This is not possible when no one else is acquainted with the particular thing that has "fallen under our notice". Bertrand Russell offered his theory of descriptions in part as a way of defining a proper name, the definition being given by a definite description that "picks out" exactly one individual. Saul Kripke pointed to difficulties with this approach, especially in relation to modality, in his book Naming and Necessity.
Wittgenstein's family resemblance problem
There is a presumption in the classic example of a definition that the definiens can be stated. Wittgenstein argued that for some terms this is not the case. The examples he used include game, number and family. In such cases, he argued, there is no fixed boundary that can be used to provide a definition. Rather, the items are grouped together because of family resemblance. For terms such as these it is not possible, and indeed not necessary, to state a definition; rather, one simply comes to understand the use of the term.
Wittgenstein apparently believed that some uses of words picked out collections of objects that did not each have the same essence or satisfy all and only the necessary and sufficient conditions specified in any one definiens.
Why none of the above proves it is impossible to define jazz
Almost all of the candidate arguments above for proving something is indefinable do not apply to the specific case of jazz. Let's review why none of them succeed in rejecting the possibility of a definition for jazz.
Jazz and types of definitions
Any intensional definition will include the two aspects within its definiens that specifies the categories related to the concept of jazz followed by the distinguishing characteristics peculiar to jazz as differentia. This is theoretically possible to achieve if necessary and sufficient conditions could be found that succeeded in supplying the characteristics distinctive of jazz's differentia that distinguish it as a genre of music from all others.
The best definition of jazz in philosophy of jazz will always be an intensional definition because an extensional definition only lists particular instances of jazz and tells no one anything about what makes the items on the list in an extensional jazz definition be jazz. Should anyone challenge one or more items on the enumerated list as not counting as actual jazz, then the definition has nothing to fall back on that can be used to defend itself accounting for why the items in the list ought to count as jazz.
CONCLUSION: A definition for jazz should be an intensional definition.
➢ Can a lexical definition be used to define jazz?
There are considerations supporting either the affirmative or the negative responses to the question.
- The "Yes" answer is that there is nothing else to go on other than what knowledgeable people have said and believed about jazz for what constitutes the jazz tradition other than musicians and bands whom people have considered to have played jazz. There is nothing else to go on to figure out what musics have been jazz other than the one's that people have already judged to have been playing jazz. Also, by definition of what it means to even have a lexical definition one must use how people have actually used the term in question so whatever people have actually said is jazz is the data to be mined to determine a lexical definition.
But there are several significant problems with this approach. Wikipedia: "Lexical definition" has this to say about this type/style of definition:
“The lexical definition of a term, also known as the dictionary definition, is the meaning of the term in common usage. A lexical definition is usually the type expected from a request for definition, and it is generally expected that such a definition will be stated as simply as possible in order to convey information to the widest audience. Note that a lexical definition is descriptive, reporting actual usage within speakers of a language, and changes with changing usage of the term, rather than prescriptive, which would be to stick with a version regarded as "correct," regardless of drift in accepted meaning. They tend to be inclusive, attempting to capture everything the term is used to refer to, and as such are often too vague for many purposes. When the breadth or vagueness of a lexical definition is unacceptable, a precising definition or a stipulative definition is often used. Words can be classified as lexical or nonlexical. Lexical words are those that have independent meaning (such as a noun, verb, adjective, adverb, or preposition. . . . As a word may have more than one meaning, it may also have more than one lexical definition. Lexical definitions are either true or false. If the definition is the same as the actual use of the word then it is true, otherwise it is false. (paragraph breaks removed and bold not in original)
- The "No" answer is that people's judgments about jazz have often been wrong. Many Dixielanders did not find big band swing to be jazz, big band swing did not find Bebop to be jazz, Bebop did not find free jazz to be jazz, mainstream jazz did not find jazz/rock fusion to be jazz, and so on and so forth. The problem with using what people have actual said about musics that may or may not be jazz is that one can find these opposing positions. Some people think smooth jazz should not count as jazz while others have accepted it as a genre of jazz. So which is its potential lexical definition definer and how can you possibly decide what to include or exclude from the definition of jazz when people have said contradictory things about the same subject matter? Since there is no way to adjudicate between opposing jazz conceptions trying to produce a consistent lexical definition for jazz is doomed to failure.
Jazz is not in the list of the undefinables listed above
Consider each of the items in the list of possible undefinable items and see if any of them are relatable to jazz.
- Start with primitives. Is jazz as a musical genre and a genus of music in any way a primitive? No. Jazz is not a fundamental or simple concept. It does not contain an essence that is so simple and basic that it has no other components constituting its essence. Therefore, since jazz is not a primitive concept, the arguments against primitive concepts having no definition does not apply to jazz since it is not a thing that falls within the scope of being a primitive.
Jazz is not an undefined predicate.
Why is jazz not an undefined predicate?
Bertrand Russell's logical simples
Jazz is not a simple; rather it is a complex object type. Therefore, no arguments using simples apply to jazz as a kind.
Scholastic's highest genera
The highest genera are extremely basic and very broad and inclusive categories such as (1) substance, (2) quantity, (3) quality, (4) relatives, (5) somewhere, (6) sometime, (7) being in a position, (8) having, (9) acting, and (10) being acted upon. Jazz is not so broad or general a category, so it is not in the top ten most general. This rules out any arguments based on the undefinability of these categories as applying to jazz being undefinable.
John Locke's simple concepts
Jazz is a complex object type so it is not a simple, or fundamental concept. Hence, such arguments against simples being undefinable do not apply to jazz.
Proper names have no intension only extension
Jazz is the name of a kind and kinds are not proper names. A proper name uniquely references to only one referent. Jazz, on the other hand, refers to multiply instantiated events, so it is not a proper name.
Furthermore, jazz as a kind clearly has intensions that hold true of jazz, so this would prove jazz cannot be a proper name if proper names cannot have any intensional meanings.
Primary substance, or proper name
- Jazz is not a proper name of a distinct individual, or what Aristotle calls a primary substance. A primary substance, as defined in the "Categories" at (2a10), is something that is “neither in a subject nor said of a subject” and examples of these things given for primary substances at "Categories" (1a20, 2a11) are an individual person, such as Socrates, or an individual horse, such as Roy Roger's wonderful trick palomino horse (he could do 150 tricks) Trigger.
Jazz is not a primary substance
➢ Is jazz a primary substance?
- No, jazz is not a primary substance since it is not an individual entity. The 'proof' that jazz cannot be a primary substance is that it fails to meet the criteria specified by Aristotle. Jazz CAN be both "in a subject" and also "of a subject." Something is 'in a subject' if it can be predicated of that subject, that is, it is a property or feature of something. This is true for jazz since it is a genre of music making such that one can say of a band that it is playing jazz and this is to attribute the property or feature of an action by the musicians to be playing jazz. When one has a primary substance it cannot be predicated of anything else, whereas other things are predicated of it. Hence, because jazz is predicable of things, it itself cannot be a primary substance.
- Furthermore, primary substances being individual entities must be a determinate individual that is capable of existing on its own. That is, it's existence, when it exists, is not reliant on other entities to exist. This is not true of jazz as a musical genre. To have jazz exist requires musician(s), musical instruments, music itself, sounds, sounds require sound waves through a physical medium, all of which must exist concurrently whenever jazz is being played. (You cannot hear jazz in the void of outer space.)
Primary substances include particular living organisms, inanimate objects, and their parts. Secondary substances are the species and genera of these. This distinction is unique to the Categories, which raises the question of why Aristotle treats species and genera as substances.
The species in which the things primarily called substances are, are called secondary substances, as also are the genera of these species. For example, the individual man belongs in a species, man, and animal is a genus of the species; so these—both man and animal—are called secondary substances. (bold not in original)
A genus is a higher category than a species in modern biological terminology. The genus is a more general category within which the more specific species falls within.
CONCLUSION: Jazz cannot be a primary substance therefore it must be in the category of non-primary things.
It would seem that jazz might therefore be a secondary substance since it is a genus of music said of individual substances (Socrates, a primary substance, is playing jazz; Duke Ellington's orchestra, made up of primary substances, plays jazz) and it is a universal since it can be predicated of multiple exemplars (Jazz was being played in three different venues simultaneously).
Perhaps, though jazz cannot be any kind of substance neither primary nor secondary. If jazz is an action type, would that make it a secondary substance or a non-substance?
Aristotle's example of an action is "to cut." There are no differentia specified with this genus. If Aristotle proposes to group all complex activities within the category of action, such activities as playing tennis 🎾 or jazz 🎷, then his action types can include massive amounts of implied differentia that are required to be actually performing the action under investigation. Tennis requires a tennis racquet, a tennis ball, a tennis court, and generally speaking even another player beside oneself, or you're not really playing tennis, but at best only practicing it.
Aristotle on primary substance and change
Aristotle also relates the notion of a primary substance to relate to changes. S. Marc Cohen, in his article "Aristotle's Metaphysics" explains the relationships between Aristotle on primary substance from both Aristotle's "Categories" and from his "Physics."
“In the Categories, Aristotle was concerned with subjects of predication: what are the things we talk about, and ascribe properties to? In the Physics, his concern is with subjects of change: what is it that bears (at different times) contrary predicates and persists through a process of change? But there is an obvious connection between these conceptions of a subject, since a subject of change must have one predicate belonging to it at one time that does not belong to it at another time. Subjects of change, that is, are also subjects of predication.” (bold and bold italic not in original)
And the subjects of predication are the primary substances, i.e., determinate individual items.
“For he [Aristotle] tells us that primary substances are “not said of a subject” (2a14), whereas a secondary substance such as man “is said of a subject, the individual man” (1a21), and this conforms to his definition of “particular” and “universal” in "De Interpretatione": “I call universal that which is by its nature predicated of a number of things, and particular that which is not; man, for instance, is a universal, Callias a particular” (17a37–b1). So the difference between primary and secondary substances is that the former are particulars and the latter are universals.” (bold and bold italic not in original)
Miles Davis is himself a primary substance. Being an animal is an essential characteristic of Miles and animal is predicated of Miles so animal is a secondary substance. Animality is substantial for Miles because it is one of his essential properties. Being a jazz musician is not an essential property of Miles, so being a jazz musician cannot be a secondary substance.
Aristotle's two other fundamental ontological categories concern features of things that are not essential, but accidental, such as properties that fall under his nine categories after substance including, quality, quantity, and actions and passions, and then properties of those properties, their higher genera.
Being of a subject and jazz
➢ As Aristotle would understand it, can jazz also be 'of' a subject? What does it mean for something to be of a subject for an Aristotelian?
“Gareth B. Matthews, "Aristotelian Categories," 146-147.
Not being in a subject makes something a substance (ousia). Not being in a subject conjoined with not even being said of a subject makes something a primary substance. As we shall see in a moment, primary substances, according to Aristotle, are subjects for everything else. That includes. first of all, things that, while they are not in primary substances are said of primary substances. Man and horse are examples of that group. Thus, although man is not in Socrates, man is said of Socrates. Similarly, horse is not in Bucephalus, but horse is said of Bucephalus. Because man and horse are not in any subject, they, too, count as substances, along with Socrates and Bucephalus. But because man and horse are said of subjects, that is, classify them, they are only secondary substances.
Here one might wonder why we shouldn't say that Socrates is said of Socrates, and Bucephalus is said of Bucephalus. The reason seems to be that Socrates does not classify Socrates: it names him, just as Bucephalus names Bucephalus. And being said of, we need to remember, is a classifying relation.
So things on the left side of the box are substances, either primary (on the bottom) or secondary (on top). What now about things in the right-hand column, things that are in a subject? What are they? I shall call them "properties." I use "property" here in the modem sense in which each quality or feature or characteristic of a thing counts as a property of that thing. A philosopher today might most naturally think of properties as being the properties of substances. But Aristotle thinks of them as being in substances. Following him in this use of "in," we can think of substances as being, metaphorically, jewel boxes. We can say that the jewels in a given jewel box are that particular box's properties. An individual jewel box will be a primary substance. And a basic kind of jewel box will be a secondary substance.
The Greek word we transliterate as "categories," namely, categoriai, comes from a verb Aristotle uses to mean "to predicate." What the editor or commentator who first named this treatise "Categories" had in mind with the title he gave it is presumably that Aristotle, in this work, makes distinctions among statements or predications that, as we might want to put the matter today, reveal the "deep structure" of very simple and basic predications. Revealing this deep structure in turn illuminates the metaphysical status of what gets predicated and what it gets predicated of. Consider now the simplest subject-predicate predications of the schematic form, "S is F." There are, according to (Tl) two ways in which it will be correct to state of S that it is F. We might correctly state of S that it is F if:
(1) S is [fundamentally classified as an] F. Alternatively, we might correctly state of S that it is F if:
(2) There is something, x, such that x is in S and x is [fundamentally classified as an] F. Now compare these examples:
(a) Bucephalus is a horse. ,
(b) Bucephalus is brown.
If (a) is true, it will be true, according to Aristotle, because, in line with (1) above.
(a") Bucephalus is fundamentally classified as a horse.
That is, horse is said of Bucephalus. By contrast, if (b) is true, it will be so because, in line with (2) above.
(b") There is something, x, such that x is in Bucephalus and x is [fundamentally classified as a] brown.
The distinction between primary and secondary substances—substances said of a subject and those not said of a subject—is relatively straightforward. It is a distinction between concrete individuals—paradigmatically, for Aristotle, living organisms—and their species and genera. We could also adopt the "primary—"secondary" terminology to distinguish ground-level properties from their species and genera, although Aristotle himself does not do this. The "primary properties" would then be the things in a subject that are not said of a subject; that is, they would be properties that are not themselves the species or genera of properties. "Secondary properties" would be properties that are the species and genera of primary properties. Now we need to ask what exactly it is that counts as being a "primary," that is, individual property. What exactly are, to use Aristotle's own examples, this individual knowledge-of-grammar and this individual white? (bold not in original)
How to answer that question has been much debated among commentators. For the time being I am going to make use of my own interpretation of what primary properties are. Later on I shall consider an alternative account.
On my interpretation, a "primary" or individual property is what is called by metaphysicians today a "trope." A trope in this 'modern usage' is not, as one might have thought, a figure of speech: rather, it is an abstract particular. It is a non-repeatable instance of some property — what Bertrand Russell called a "unit quality" Thus, if two roses have exactly the same shade of pink, it will still be true that the pink in this rose is distinct from the pink in that rose. Each rose will have its own individual color property, its own individual pink, even if the two properties are of the very same shade and hue. One individual pink will be in a subject (say, an individual rose), and in no other subject. Its being individual means that it is not said of anything else: in particular, it is not said of, that is, does not classify any other instance of color, even one of the same shade and hue.
If we accept this understanding of what it is to be an individual quality, something "in a subject, but not said of a subject," we have the materials for a very interesting solution to "the problem of the one and the many." a problem that Aristotle inherited from Plato. Thus Plato has his character, Socrates, wonder in the dialogue, Philebus, whether one ought to suppose there is some one thing, man (that is human being), some one thing, ox, some one thing, the beautiful, and so on. (bold not in original)
Philosophy 433 Philosophy of Aristotle
University of Washington
Predication and Ontology: The Categories
1. The Ten Categories
The list (even the precise number) of categories varies in different works. In the Categories, we get this list (1b25):
Substance Quality Quantity Relation Where When Position Having Action Passion 2. Linguistics or Ontology?
Is this linguistics or ontology? What are the categories categories of?
Things in the world? Linguistic expressions? Concepts? A likely account: Aristotle is classifying things in the world on the basis of linguistic considerations. (The idea seems to be that the structure of language mirrors the structure of reality.)
3. Substance vs. the other 9 Categories
The first category - substance - is the most important in Aristotle’s ontology. Substances are, for Aristotle, the fundamental entities. To see why this is so, we will have to introduce some important Aristotelian distinctions.
4. Subjects and predicates
These are non-linguistic entities: not the subjects and predicates of sentences, but the entities referred to by linguistic subjects and predicates.
A subject (hupokeimenon) is what a statement is about. A predicate (kategoroumenon) is what a statement says about its subject. Examples:
This (particular animal) is a man. Man is an animal. This (particular color) is white. White is a color. The same thing may be both a subject and a predicate. E.g., man and white above. Some things are subjects but are never predicates, e.g., this (particular) animal, or this (particular) color.
5. Overview: two kinds of predication
Consider the following pair of simple (atomic) sentences:
“Socrates is a man” “Socrates is wise” Do both of these atomic sentences have the same kind of ontological underpinning? I.e., is the structure of the fact that Socrates is a man the same as the structure of the fact that Socrates is wise? Plato’s account suggests that it is. For Plato
“x is F” means that x partakes of the Form, F-ness. For Plato, predication, in general, is explicated in terms of the notion of participating in a Form. In response, Aristotle thinks this oversimplifies. The superficial similarity between these two sentences disguises an important ontological difference in the facts they express. (In Greek, the sentences look even more similar than in English, since Greek lacks the indefinite pronoun: “Socrates man (is)” vs. “Socrates wise (is).”)
For Aristotle, man is what Socrates IS; wise, on the other hand, is not what he IS (even though we say he is wise). Rather, it is something he HAS. (Cf. Grice and Code on IZZing and HAZZing.)
This idea emerges in the Categories distinction between what is said of a subject and what is in a subject.
6. Two fundamental relations: SAID OF and IN a subject.
There are two basic ontological relations that cut across all ten categories. These correspond to the notions (that Aristotle later develops) of essential and accidental predication.
SAID OF a subject This is a relation of fundamental ontological classification.
It is the relation between a kind and a thing that falls under that kind. It is a transitive relation (if x is SAID OF y and y is SAID OF z, then x is SAID OF z.). Its relata belong to the same category. Examples:
Man is SAID OF Socrates. Animal is SAID OF man. (Hence) animal is SAID OF Socrates. White is SAID OF this (particular) color. Color is SAID OF white. IN a subject This is a relation of fundamental ontological dependence. What is IN a subject, Aristotle says, belongs to it “not as a part, and cannot exist separately from what it is in” (1a24).
This grammatical knowledge is IN a soul. This white is IN a body. Color is IN body. This is a cross-categorial relation; things IN a subject are non-substances; the things they are IN are substances: non-substances are IN substances.
7. Universals and Particulars
Although Aristotle does not use these terms in the Categories, it is clear that he intends to capture the notions of universal and particular with his SAID OF locution. Cf. these passages:
De Int. 17a38: “Now of actual things some are universal, others particular (I call universal that which is by its nature predicated of a number of things, and particular that which is not; man, for instance, is a universal, Callias a particular).” Met. B, 1000a1: “For this is just what we mean by the individual - the numerically one, and by universal we mean that which is predicable of the individuals.”
An. Pr. A27, 43a26ff: “Of all the things which exist some are such that they cannot be predicated of anything else . . ., e.g. Cleon and Callias, i.e. the individual and sensible, but other things may be predicated of them (for each of these is both man and animal); and some things are themselves predicated of others, but nothing prior is predicated of them; and some are predicated of others, and yet others of them, e.g. man of Callias and animal of man. It is clear then that some things are naturally not said of anything; for as a rule each sensible thing is such that it cannot be predicated of anything....”
So a universal is what is SAID OF some subject, and a particular is what is not SAID OF any subject. Note that there are universals and particulars in all the categories:
Man and animal are universal substances. Callias and “this horse” are particular substances. White and color are universal qualities. “This white” is a particular quality.
8. The fourfold division (Categories, Ch. 2)
The SAID OF relation divides entities into universals and particulars; the IN relation divides them into substances and non-substances. Hence, the fourfold division at 1a20ff produces (in the order of presentation):
Universal substances Particular non-substances Universal non-substances Particular substances 9. Primary Substances: the basic individuals
The last class (things neither SAID OF nor IN any subject) Aristotle calls “primary substances” (protai ousiai). Primary substances are fundamental in that “if they did not exist it would be impossible for any of the other things to exist” (2b5).
10. Aristotle’s argument for the ontological priority of primary substances (2a34-2b7)
Every secondary (universal) substance is predicated of (i.e., SAID OF) some primary substance or other. Every non-substance (whether universal or particular) is IN some primary substance or other. That is, everything other than primary substance is either SAID OF or IN primary substances. Therefore, if primary substances did not exist, neither would anything else. 11. Amplifications on Aristotle’s argument:
It is clear that a non-substance can exist only IN a substance. For the only subject a non-substance can be IN is a substance, and things IN a subject (i.e., non-substances) cannot exist if they are not IN subjects.
What about universals? Aristotle’s premises seems to leave open the possibility that they might exist even though they are not SAID OF anything. But he clearly seems to be assuming an ontological dependence condition for universals analogous to the one he assumes for non-substances:
The existence of a universal depends upon there being individuals falling under it. So universal substances cannot exist unless there are primary substances for them to be SAID OF. And universal non-substances cannot exist unless there are individual non-substances for them to be SAID OF. And individual non-substances cannot exist unless there are substances for them to be IN. Therefore, if there were no primary substances, there would not be anything else. 12. Some important features of substances
See esp. Categories ch. 5:
Substances are not IN subjects (they are not dependent entities.) Differentiae are not IN subjects either. Why does Aristotle say this? After all, differentiae are (typically) qualities, and qualities can exist only by being IN substances. So it would seem to follow that differentiae are IN subjects. The precise status of differentiae in Aristotle’s system is hard to pin down. But there are some good reasons for him to say that differentiae are not IN subjects:
It seems to be a corollary of (a). For Aristotle thinks that a definition consists of genus + differentia (cf. Topics A.8, 103b15). So a differentia of a substance is part of what the substance IS, and not something it HAS. When Aristotle talks about “parts of substances” in the Categories, he is probably thinking of “conceptual” parts, and differentiae would be such parts (cf. Frede, “Individuals in Aristotle”). But Aristotle says that the things IN a subject are not parts of the subject, i.e., not differentiae. Perhaps Aristotle can say about differentiae (of substances) what he says about secondary substances (3b14-22): a secondary substance signifies a poion - lit. quality, but here it pretty clearly means sort. He certainly does not think that horse (the species) is a quality - he thinks it is a type or sort of substance. (That’s why he says that a species like horse is not simply a poion, but a poion with respect to substance - 3b21).
Similarly, a differentia is not simply a poion, but a poion with respect to substance. That means that it is not a quality (in the way that white is a quality); and hence it does not count as being IN a subject.
Substances have no contraries (opposites). Substances do not admit of degree. (If F is a substance term, nothing can be more or less F.) “Most distinctive” Aristotle says (4a10) is that “substances remain one and the same while admitting contraries.” By this Aristotle means that a distinctive feature of substances is that they undergo change. That is, they persist through changes. They can be subjects of change. We will examine this.
13. Substances and Change
Presumably, in the Categories Aristotle thinks that only substances can undergo change. Since he holds that change requires that one property of a subject be replaced by another, opposed, property, what he has to prove is this:
if x goes from being F at one time to being not-F at a later time, then x is a substance. [One might think that Aristotle can obtain this conclusion easily, since it might appear that only substances can be subjects. But although he is tempted by this equation of substancehood with subjecthood, he realizes that it will not work. Cf. Topics A9: the “what is it?” question can be raised about qualities, quantities, etc. So any item from any category can be a subject.]
The argument he gives in the Categories consists in choosing some non-substances as values of x, and then showing that for a choice of values of F (with respect to which we would expect there to be change) x does not go from being F at one time to being not-F at another time.
These are his examples:
x = a color F = white not-F = black x = an action F = good not-F = bad But these examples beg the question. For the choices of values for x and F are from the same category. [This is certainly clear in the case of example (a).] Yet when Aristotle gives an example of change, x and F are from different categories, with x a substance and F a non-substance.
If x and F are both from the category of substance, there will not be change either. E.g., an animal (x) does not go from being a horse (F) to a tiger (not-F).
If x and F are from different categories, change appears to be possible even if x is a non-substance. E.g., a color (x) can go from being in Boston (F) to being in Seattle (not-F), or from being popular (F) to being unpopular (not-F).
The principle on which Aristotle’s point seems to depend is this:
A thing never changes with respect to what it IZZes, but only with respect to what it HAZZes. And this seems to guarantee that substances can change (since every substance HAZZes some accidental properties); but it doesn’t show that only substances can change. For it hasn’t been proved that non-substances can’t also HAZZ accidental properties.
14. A defense of Aristotle
What can be said in behalf of Aristotle’s argument? There is still an intuition that substances play a special role as subjects. One might defend that intuition in the following way:
In those cases in which a non-substance (e.g. a quality) seems to change (i.e. goes from being F to being not-F), the change doesn’t really seem to be in the non-substance that is the apparent subject, but in some (unspecified) substance. E.g., cf. “Purple has become unpopular.” Here, it seems that purple itself hasn’t changed. Rather, people (substances) have changed their attitudes about colors.
So we can analyze “Purple has become unpopular” as “Most people no longer like purple.” In this case, a more defensible thesis for Aristotle might be:
Every (apparent) change which a non-substance undergoes can be analyzed as a (real) change that a substance undergoes. But even this thesis (as we shall see) will not stand up. The criterion of “ultimate subject of change” for substancehood will have to be given up.
15. Aristotle’s Ontology after the Categories.
In the Categories, individual substances are left unanalyzed, structureless. They are (in Furth’s phrase) “methodologically opaque.” The further analysis of individual substances is motivated by concerns about change, in the Physics and Metaphysics. This analysis will complicate Aristotle’s ontology and threaten the primacy of the individual (concrete) substances of the Categories. So we will move on to examine the introduction of matter in the Physics and the problems that it raises in the Metaphysics. Return to PHIL 433 Home Page
This page was last updated on 11/09/2004 13:08:32 Copyright © 2004 - S. Marc Cohen All Rights Reserved
Primary and non-primary substances
In Routledge Philosophy Guidebook to Aristotle and the Metaphysics by Vasilis Politis he states how to distinguish between primary substance and non-primary beings (everything else).
“Aristotle conceives being by positing “a distinction between things that are beings simply in virtue of themselves (i.e. primary beings) and things that are beings in virtue of their relation to those things (i.e. non-primary beings).” (bold not in original)
“This is the distinction between:
1. things that are beings in virtue of themselves and not in virtue of their relation to other things; and
2. things that are beings in virtue of their relation to, and so dependent on, the primary beings." 
Cynthia Freeland has a 1996 handout on Aristotle's four types of things said.
“Four types of "things said" where "In" here means **: (a) "In, not as a part" and (b) can't exist separately from what it is in.
1. Secondary Substance: Cat (species), Animal (genus) ("Said of a subject, not in** a subject")
2. Primary Non-Substance: This white, this lying-on-its-back, this furriness (an individual which is one in number but in a non-substance category) ("In a subject, not said of a subject")
3. Secondary Non-Substance: This color, this position, this covering (a species of genus in a non-substance category) ("Both said of and in a subject")
4. Primary Substances: Fluffy, Calypso (my cat), a dog, a horse, a human (an individual substance which is a particular "this") ("Neither in nor said of a subject") (bold not in original)
Being in a subject and jazz
➢ As Aristotle would understand it, can jazz be 'in' a subject?
“Aristotle contends that all other things are either said-of primary substances, which are their subjects, or are in them as subjects.” (bold not in original)
“So far, then, we have this fourfold classification of "the things that there are":
- 1. Individual substances, such as this man (say, Socrates) and this tree: these are not in a subject and not said of a subject, and they are called by Aristotle "primary substances."
- 2. Species and genera of substances, such as man, horse, animal, oak, and tree: these are not in a subject but said of a subject (man is said of Socrates and animal is both said of Socrates and also said of man). Items in this grouping are called by Aristotle "secondary substances."
- 3. Individual properties, such as the very paleness of Socrates and his particular wisdom, and other non-substance individuals. These are in a subject but not said of a subject.
- 4. Species and genera of properties, such as wisdom and virtue. These are in a subject and also said of a subject.
In a Subject: The interpretation I [Gareth B. Matthews] have been suggesting, according to which individual, or primary, properties are tropes, faces challenges on more than one front. But the most obvious challenge arises from a sentence I left out of (T1). In J. L. Ackrill's translation it reads this way:
- (T2). By "in a subject" I mean what is in something, not as a part, and cannot exist separately from that which it is in. (1a24-5) (bold not in original)
In Aristotle's ontology there are only four basic categories of being: primary and secondary substances and primary and secondary properties. The most basic and fundamental are determinate individual beings Aristotle calls primary substance. As we have seen above jazz is not a primary substance because it is not only one determinate individual being that exists independently of all else and because it can be predicated of many things needs to be a universal.
If Gareth Matthews is correct that individual, or what he calls (Aristotle did not so call), primary properties are tropes, then since jazz is not a trope it cannot be a primary property either.
➢ Why believe that jazz cannot be a trope?
From most so-called common sense points of view, tropes are extremely peculiar with bloated ontologies. They are peculiar because each tropic property is unique in that it is not identical to the set of all objects that exemplify the property in question, or what a set theoretical theorist might say is the universal under which all of the tokens are contained.
➢ Yet of the other three categories of being where does jazz fall?
What status might jazz have with respect to Aristotle's fourth category. Recall that Aristotle's fourth category seemed to include the species and genera of properties, such as Bebop jazz that is a property of the separate action performances of Dizzy Gillespie in Philadelphia while Charlie Parker's band is playing Bebop in New York City. This means the concept "Bebop jazz" is a universal and it is a secondary action up the generalized action tree of the two primary substances, namely Dizzy and Bird performing the primary actions of individually actioning Bebop jazz music.
Items in Aristotle's fourth ontological categories have to satisfy two parameters. Fourth categories need to be both in a subject but also said of a subject.
Do we say Bebop jazz is in anything? Is Bebop jazz said of a subject? The latter appears to be the case because one can say "The woman's attention was focused on the Bebop jazz being played." Has Bebop jazz not here been said of a subject?
could be said blah and not blah, or whatever.
This may be false since there are different levels for jazz properties attributions. George Rudebusch believes that “(Miles Davis) playing bebop jazz is a ‘primary’ action, while bebop jazz itself, or jazz, or the more general action of musical performance, and so on up a division tree of generality of action types are all ‘secondary’ actions.” Are not all of these secondary actions themselves universals since they are one over many?
Jazz in Aristotle's ontology
- Frank Lewis, Substance and Predication in Aristotle (Cambridge, 1991).
- Mary Louise Gill, Aristotle on Substance (Princeton, 1989).
- Charlotte Witt, Substance and Essence in Aristotle (Cornell, 1989).
- S. Marc Cohen, "Essentialism in Aristotle," Review of Metaphysics (1978), 387-405.
George Rudebusch on jazz's Aristotelian ontology
George Rudebusch wrote:
Second, jazz cannot be a substance since it is one over many that can never be true of primary substances. It does not yet, though, follow as to which of the three remaining categories Aristotle has available to him in his ontology as to where it should go.
Initially when I read your list of categories:
substance: man, horse
quantity: one meter, two meters
quality: pale, literate
relation: double, half, larger
location: in the Lyceum, in the marketplace
time: yesterday, last year
orientation: lying down, sitting
state: shod [wearing shoes], armed
action: cutting, burning
passion: being cut, being burned)
Action seemed the only category that jazz might fit in to. Is everything involving jazz an action though? Is jazz sheet music an action? Is a jazz musician an action?
Possibly one might say that these adjectives describing sheet musics or musicians describe the activities/actions that someone would have to perform to exemplify the contents of the sheet music, or the actions a jazz musician must take to be performing jazz as a practicing musician.
The quote in your 5/28 message comes from Ar. Categories 4 1a20-1b9. The individual properties in your quotation are also called ‘abstract particulars’. Plato draws this distinction at Phaedo 102d between tallness in Simmias and the rest of us and Tallness Itself.
My initial thought is that jazz is a such—that is, in a category other than substance; so, a property—not a this (a substance, primary or secondary). As Aristotle, conceives it, if you try to point to jazz, the best you can do is point to a human being who is performing it. Of Aristotle’s ten categories (Categories 4), I’m inclined to put jazz into the category of Action (attached p. 25). In the category of action we have both Jazz Itself and Coltrane’s jazz, in other words, a property of a property and a property of Coltrane.
Can knowledge in general be pointed to? No. Jazz is a genre of music making.
“Jazz is a one over many. So it is a universal not a particular. Notice that in the division tree on my TMA handout, p 25 or so, everything underlined is a particular. Everything nonunderlined is a universal. You’re quite right that a primary substance is a particular (e.g. Socrates) and a secondary substance is a universal (e.g. human being). Aristotle doesn’t speak of primary and secondary qualities, actions, etc.—in fact scholars aren’t sure he wants to recognize the existence of such “abstract particulars”—but we can include them, as I have in my division tree. Then we can speak of primary and secondary actions. The primary action of A’s jazz is NOT a one over many. Only A can do A’s jazz. Finely individuated. The secondary action of A’s jazz is a one over many. Any performance with the right sorts of features will count as A’s style of jazz. Health is not a substance and so not a secondary substance. But my health is a primary state while human health, primate health, mammal health, vertebrate health, animal health etc. are all secondary states. Likewise Dizzy’s jazz is a primary action and not a one over many, but Dizzy’s style of jazz is a secondary action and is a one over many.
“Aristotle makes ‘passions’ a separate category from ‘actions’ in his list in the Categories. He indicates elsewhere that the number of categories is indefinite. I’d hope he’d agree that the categories needed is not absolute, but relative to a given inquiry or branch of science.
Musicians and Philosophers are compounds of accident and substance and don’t belong in the substance category. So Socrates, Plato, Miles, Clora are human beings. (‘Human being’–a substance—answers the question, ‘What is it?’. ‘Musical’ or ‘philosophical’—qualities—answer the question ‘What sort … is it?’ in particular ‘What sort of expert is it?’ But ‘musician’ or ‘philosopher’ although grammatical forms of language, are not of the right form to answer either the ‘what is it?’ question or the ‘what sort is it?’ question. (Aristotle recognizes that the question ‘what is it?’ can be asked within any category: what substance is it? What quality is it? He doesn’t add, but we might, that one can also ask, ‘What accidental compound is it?’—Nonetheless, the focal meaning for all these ‘What is it?’ questions is ‘What substance is it?’) (bold not in original)
“Here’s some quasi-Aristotelian terminology: jazz is an action. My playing bebop jazz is a ‘primary’ action, while bebop jazz, jazz, music performances, … [up the division tree to] action are all ‘secondary’ actions. (bold not in original)
God and the categories. If the predications involved in stating the truths of the Trinity are not standard, what are they? Standard predication applies to things falling under any of the various categories, but Augustine sometimes seems to suggest that God is above the categories. (italics authors) He says, for example, that "the overtowering height of the divinity exceeds the capacity of conventional [categories of] expression." He describes God as "good without quality, great without quantity, creator without need, presiding without posture, containing all things without possession, whole everywhere without place, eternal without time, making mutable things without any change of himself, and undergoing nothing" (5.1.2). In this list of nine kinds of attributes, Augustine explicitly mentions eight of the nine non-substantial categories: quantitatis, qualitatis, locus, tenporis, situs, habitus, facere, and patio'. (There is one category he does not mention, relativum, giving instead a species of that category, indigentia.)
But Augustine cannot locate God entirely above the categories of speech. First of all, God most truly is a substance (5.2.3); thus he cannot be above that category. To be sure, Augustine states that God is different from all other substances, which are "susceptible of accidents, by which a change, great or small, is brought about in them." For God alone is an immutable substance (incommutabilis substantia, 5.2.3). It is for this reason that God is incapable of taking any sort of accident. Indeed God is even incapable of taking "inseparable accidents" (5.4.5), for that class of things is limited to presence in what comes and ceases to be.
At this point, it may be tempting to say that for Augustine God is in the category of substance, but above all other categories; thus that no horizontal predications are possible of God. But this modified position also must be ruled out. For Augustine, the term 'accident' does not include all which is present in (horizontally predicated), but only what is changeably present in a substance. He does allow horizontal predication of God, but only of what is "unchangeably" present in him. For Augustine claims that, although nothing can be predicated accidentally of God, nonetheless not everything that is predicated of him is done so according to substance (secundum substantiam, which appears to mean vertical predication in the category of substance). For we can predicate of God "according to relation" (dieltur enim ad aliquid: Aristotle's expression is pros ti). Now a predication of God according to relation would seem to be a horizontal predication. Augustine states that such a horizontal predication is not 'accidental' on the grounds that the relation is eternal. It follows that [p. 595] being changeably present in a substance is a necessary condition, in Augustine's terms, for being an accident. And it is also sufficient: "everything is an accident which can be lost or lessened" (5.5.6, PL 42, p. 914).
Thus, concerning horizontal predication, Augustine in effect draws a distinction between what is changeably present in and what is unchangeably present in. Only the former is impossible of God, the latter is possible. As we have seen, Augustine's first example of such a predication is in the category of relation: "something can be said of him in regard to relation (dicitur enim ad aliquid)" (5.5.6, PL 42, p. 914). Again, after pointing out that the categories of position, habit, place, and time cannot be present in God (presumably because of God's incorporeality), Augustine states that the category of action is properly predicated of God, "that perhaps may be said of God in the truest sense of the term (verissime dicatur)" (5.8.9, PL 42, p. 917).
Since God truly is a substance, and truly acts and relates, it seems that we can conclude that these at least are cases of vertical and horizontal predication!
IV. An Aristotelian, non-standard form of predication. There are other non-standard predications that are available, which [p. 596] do not require placing God totally above the categories of speech. Standard predication is either horizontal or vertical. In neither case may primary substances, i.e. those individuals at the bottom of the substance tree, be predicated of anything else. But in Metaphysics 7.3 Aristotle allows for a different kind of predication: "The predicates other than substance are predicated of substance, while [primary] substance is predicated of matter." (1029
a23-24, Ross/Barnes trans.)
For example, "This earth, air, fire, and water is flesh and bone," and "This flesh and bone is Socrates." These are not cases of vertical predication, for although Socrates' species is man, the species of flesh and bone is not man. Augustine seems to accept this sort of predication as a model for predications about the Trinity. (bold and bold italic not in original)
Aristotle on musical Coriscus
Metaphysics by Aristotle – Book V, Part 6
“ 'One' means (1) that which is one by accident, (2) that which is one by its own nature. (1) Instances of the accidentally one are ‘Coriscus and what is musical’, and ‘musical Coriscus’ (for it is the same thing to say ‘Coriscus and what is musical’, and ‘musical Coriscus’), and ‘what is musical and what is just’, and ‘musical Coriscus and just Coriscus’ For all of these are called one by virtue of an accident, ‘what is just and what is musical’ because they are accidents of one substance, ‘what is musical and Coriscus’ because the one is an accident of the other; and similarly in a sense ‘musical Coriscus’ is one with ‘Coriscus’ because one of the parts of the phrase is an accident of the other, i.e. ‘musical’ is an accident of Coriscus; and ‘musical Coriscus’ is one with ‘just Coriscus’ because one part of each is an accident of one and the same subject. The case is similar if the accident is predicated of a genus or of any universal name, e.g. if one says that man is the same as ‘musical man’; for this is either because ‘musical’ is an accident of man, which is one substance, or because both are accidents of some individual, e.g. Coriscus. Both, however, do not belong to him in the same way, but one presumably as genus and included in his substance, the other as a state or affection of the substance.” (bold not in original)
There are two fundamental problems with Aristotle's approach to the ontology of jazz. First, Aristotle makes every attribution of jazz be accidental, as specified above in the texts from his "Metaphysics," so that nothing regarding predicating jazz as a property of something could ever be necessary. Second, his account of every jazz attribution being such that any attribution of jazz as a property must be referencing only an action or activity. Let us now investigates these two objections to Aristotle's account of jazz.
“Aristotle's suggestion that an individual like Socrates both Has certain of his predicables, which are his accidents, and Is others, which are essential to him, marks a significant break with the earlier theory of (metaphysical) predication in Plato. At the same time, Aristotle also holds that the universal man too both Is certain of its predicables—it Is, say, (an) animal—but at the same time Has other properties: for exampie, man Has pale, if some individual man is pale. Both ideas challenge the Platonic view that uniform theories of (metaphysical) predication prevail both at the level of sensibles and at the level of forms: for Aristotle, particulars and universais alike in the category of substances both Have some of their predicables, and Are others. His theory also changes Plato's view of the significance of the difference in levels. In holding that a particular Is certain of its predicables, Aristotle attributes to sensibles at least some measure of the invariance that for Plato was a prerogative exclusively of forms. Conversely, the idea that a universal can Have certain of its predicables, challenges Plato's view that forms eternally and abidingly Are what they are. Finally, Aristotle also reverses Plato's choice of what to count as primary substance. For Plato, clearly, the primary realities are the forms. In Aristotle's theory in the Categories, however, universale even in the category of substance are counted as secondary substances, and the primary substances are instead the individuals, Socrates, Calilas, and the like.
Aristotle promotes individuals to the rank of primary substance, mainly under the influence of his theory of (metaphysical) predication. In the Categories, Aristotle's chief reason for counting individuals as primary substances is their role as subjects:
- Further, it is because the primary substances are subjects for everything else [author's bold] that they are called substances most strictly ("Categories" 5, 2b37 ff.).
This view gives Aristotle what we may call a monolithic view of the subject of (metaphysical) predication. In the final analysis, according to this view, the only real subjects of predication are primary substances. In some cases, it is obvious that the subject of a predication is a primary substance: Socrates, for example, is a primary substance, and he is a subject to both his kinds and his accidents. In other cases, however, an item is predicated of something other than a primary substance—for example, animal is predicated of man, or pale is predicated of animal. These further kinds of predication, which do not have individual substances as their subjects, are possible, only because they are founded in other predications whose subject is after all a primary substance. For example, pale is predicated of animal, only because [author's bold] some primary substance is both an animal and pale (strictly, it Is [an] animal, and Has pale). In general, then, every predication can be analyzed ultimately in terms of the existence of some primary substance which is the subject for predicables.”
Two objections to jazz being only an accidental activity
There are two fundamental problems with Aristotle's approach to the ontology of jazz. First, Aristotle makes every attribution of jazz be accidental, as specified above in the texts from his "Metaphysics," so that nothing regarding predicating jazz as a property of something could ever be necessary. Second, his account of every jazz attribution being such that any attribution of jazz as a property must be referencing only an action or activity. Let us now investigates these two objections to Aristotle's account of jazz.
Jazz can be an essential and necessary feature
The first objection to Aristotle's account is that on his understanding there are no necessary attributions of the property of jazz. On Aristotle's model, jazz is an activity performed by musicians where each individual musician is a primary substance. On Earth, these musicians are human beings, or using Aristotle's own examples, an individual musician, say Miles Davis, where he is both a man and an animal. Since Miles cannot fail to be a man nor an animal these properties (Aristotle's secondary substances) are not accidental, but rather essential or necessary. Presumably, Aristotle believes that Miles could remain Miles Davis even if he was not a musician, or never performed the activity of playing music again. Miles as a baby was a man and an animal, but not a musician so therefore since Miles can exist without being a musician this proves that being a musician is only an accidental feature of Miles. However, neither being a man nor being an animal are accidental features of him since if these features are removed one no longer references Miles Davis's primary substance.
This understanding of Miles's musician's status as being accidental and not essential to being Miles is confirmed by Aristotle in Chapter33/A33 of his Prior Analytics where he explains that musical Miccalus could cease to exist if Miccalus can no longer play music while the primary substance constitutive of Miccalus remains in existence.
“Again, let C be Miccalus, B Miccalus the musician, A to die to-morrow; B therefore is truly predicated of C, since Miccalus is Miccalus the musician, and A is truly predicated of B, for Miccalus the musician may die to-morrow, but A is falsely predicated of C. This case therefore is the same with the preceding, for it is not universally true that Miccalus the musician will die to-morrow, and if this is not assumed, there would be no syllogism.” (bold and bold italic not in original)
Are there only accidental attributions of jazz as a property of things? Aristotle seems to claim this in the next quoted passage below from his "Metaphysics." Is there anything where jazz is a necessary feature of something such that if that property is removed, or absent, then one no longer has the former object that has jazz removed from it as a property?
“ ‘The same’ means (1) that which is the same in an accidental sense, e.g. ‘the pale’ and ‘the musical’ are the same because they are accidents of the same thing, and ‘a man’ and ‘musical’ because the one is an accident of the other; and ‘the musical’ is ‘a man’ because it is an accident of the man. (The complex entity is the same as either of the simple ones and each of these is the same as it; for both ‘the man’ and ‘the musical’ are said to be the same as ‘the musical man’, and this the same as they.) This is why all of these statements are made not universally; for it is not true to say that every man is the same as ‘the musical’ (for universal attributes belong to things in virtue of their own nature, but accidents do not belong to them in virtue of their own nature); but of the individuals the statements are made without qualification. For ‘Socrates’ and ‘musical Socrates’ are thought to be the same; but ‘Socrates’ is not predicable of more than one subject, and therefore we do not say ‘every Socrates’ as we say ‘every man’.”  (bold not in original)
Yes, there are instances where jazz as a property is not merely accidental. Can you think of any yourself? If you can, then Aristotle's claim that every jazz predication is only accidental is mistaken.
The kinds of cases where one cannot remove the property of jazz without destroying or making the relevant object cease to exist is jazz music itself. While one is playing music, one can shift back and forth from playing a tune, say "Honeysuckle Rose," in a non-jazz manner and then in a jazz way. When jazz as a property or feature of the music is removed one no longer has any jazz music therefore jazz is a non-accidental or necessary feature of all jazz music.
Jazz is not always merely an action/activity
➢ How does Aristotle understand the category of action?
Wikipedia: Categories (Aristotle) has this to say about the two final categories of action and passion.
“Doing or action (ποιεῖν, poiein, to make or do). The production of change in some other object (or in the agent itself qua other).
Being affected or affection (πάσχειν, paschein, to suffer or undergo). The reception of change from some other object (or from the affected object itself qua other). Aristotle's name paschein for this category has traditionally been translated into English as "affection" and "passion" (also "passivity"), easily misinterpreted to refer only or mainly to affection as an emotion or to emotional passion. For action he gave the example, ‘to lance’, ‘to cauterize’; for affection, ‘to be lanced’, ‘to be cauterized.’ His examples make clear that action is to affection as the active voice is to the passive voice—as acting is to being acted on. (bold not in original)
Action then, for Aristotle, is what produces or causes change in another or in the agent of action itself. It also follows from the second passage that every action has a corresponding passion that is easily generated by turning an actively voiced action (e.g. "to cut," "to play jazz") into the corresponding passively voiced receiver of the action (e.g., "to be cut," "to be playing jazz").
In the active voice an example where the sentence is true could be when one cuts a piece of paper using scissors ✂️. The agent of action is you and the scissors while what has been cut is not the scissors rather something different, namely in this example, the paper. Hence "to cut" was true of the scissors because they cut and "to be cut" was not true of the scissors since they were never cut, but true of the cut paper because it was the object "to be cut."
"Or in the agent itself qua other" applies to a musician playing jazz because the agent of the jazz production is the primary substance Miles Davis. Miles does not need to be playing jazz to remain the kind of primary substance that he is (e.g. rational animal 🦔), so jazz playing is an accidental feature of the primary substance of Miles Dewey Davis, 3rd. When the action of jazz's playing occurs through the agency of the primary substance Miles Davis performing an action, it simultaneously follows that there must be something that receives or has been affected by the action of jazz playing so it is true that there exists the corresponding passion such that it is true that there is something such that it "be playing jazz."
Since the agent of change is what performs the action in question these actions can be physical or mental so long as it results in a change. Yet what exactly does this corresponding passion refer to when there exists the action of "playing jazz"?
In many instances the item that is the agent is not identical to the item that is the passion. In the example above it is the scissors and primary substance of a person cutting that is doing the cutting, but what receives the passion of "to be cut" is the paper and not the scissors or the primary substance agent. In the case of playing jazz the item constituting the agent of the action of playing jazz is clearly the primary substance of Miles Davis, in our example from above. However, what or who is the passion such that it "be playing jazz"? Does it not seem as if the answer to the passion question is also Miles Davis because it is him that is "to be playing jazz"?
Perhaps the 'passive' component is the music itself that the musician 'actively' plays.
If this is true that the subject or referent constituting the agency of an action is identical to the corresponding passion that so to speak 'receives' the action, does this cause any problems for Aristotle's ontology?
The simplest way to characterize an action would be in terms of the motion of physical things. A musician playing the piano moves her fingers and hands on the piano keyboard while moving a foot to play the pedals on the piano effecting how the instrument generates sounds. The musician's physical body and its parts are moving in time and space and it is easy to recognize the activities of the musician.
However, is every predication of the property of jazz like this? Is every jazz attribution always involving physical activities with the motion of physical parts through time and space?
No, it is not the case that every jazz attribution involves physical bodies moving through space. Consider first a jazz dream. The musician is asleep. There are no physical bodies that are moving through space and time that is producing the jazz music heard and experienced in the dream. Therefore, Aristotle is mistaken that jazz is only an action, where action in this case means physical activity.
Consider a related case (because the music is in the mind), but this time Miles is not dreaming about jazz. Instead, he is hearing a jazz tune 'in his head' using his musical imagination. Miles can be sitting in his chair and not moving (much) so the level of physical activity in this example is very minimal. Can Miles be hearing jazz in his mind? If so, there is no physical actions that are producing or causing this instance of jazz music.
Can Aristotle's ontology be saved by thinking of actions not as always being physical movements, but we understand action to mean an activity resulting in a change, where these activities need not only be physical but could also be mental activities? If action is thought of as doing something that produces change, then Miles's dream and his musical imagination each produce a change in his thoughts 💭 and so are actions in this sense.
But how does mental activity actually work? Does one thought cause a change in the next thought? How are dreams produced? What is the ontological activity occurring such that there is a change in someone's dream?
Why does Aristotle even have the category of action in the first place. What does he need it for? He wanted to be able to contrast action with passion. Actions are active concurrently whereas a passion is expressed in the passive voice. When using a sentence in the passive voice the grammatical subject of the sentence or clause is the item that undergoes or is subjected to a change in state. Contrasted with this is the active voice where the grammatical subject plays the role of an agent. “The word "agent" comes from the present participle agens, agentis ("the one doing") of the Latin verb agere, to "do" or "make."”
In a clause with passive voice, the grammatical subject expresses the theme or patient of the main verb – that is, the person or thing that undergoes the action or has its state changed. This contrasts with active voice, in which the subject has the agent role. For example, in the passive sentence "The tree was pulled down", the subject (the tree) denotes the patient rather than the agent of the action. In contrast, the sentences "Someone pulled down the tree" and "The tree is down" are active sentences.
Aristotle's example of action is to cauterize while the comparable passion is to be cauterized. Suppose a doctor cauterizes a patient's wound. The doctor performs that action of cauterizing while the patient's hand receives the treatment and it is the patient's hand that gets cauterized.
Notice that the tenth category for Aristotle is passion. Passion is the opposite of action. Can the same item simultaneously be both a passion and an action? Presumably, in theory, this is impossible because it is the distinction between acting versus being acted upon. Consider an example. Charles plays jazz on his piano. He acts by playing a middle C by pushing down the appropriate key. The piano key was acted upon, but it itself did not do the acting, or was not the agent responsible except indirectly as a transient activity. It was Charles's finger that brought about a change in motion of the key and this caused the padded hammer inside of the piano to strike the strings moving another body and thereby being a transient activity.
What are some examples of how Aristotle understands a passion?
Aristotle on passions.
What about a jazz musical score? Does the score's property of being a jazz score reduce to the actions of musicians? If it does, then there is no jazz in the score itself.
Is jazz to be only given an operational definition wherein particular operational activities are specified in the directions for how to play this composition?
Does jazz consist of all and only the musical performances that have occurred? That cannot be correct because there already exist future jazz performances that will occur in the future.
Is the kind tiger identical to the set of all tigers? If so, the kind tiger, or tigerhood, needs to be an abstract object. Similarly then for jazz as a kind.
Musicians, like most people, have a limited taste for philosophizing in great argumentative detail. They will not have any interest in solving Plato and Aristotle's "Third Man Argument," although it really should be called the third man objection since it raises the specter of an infinity of forms all of the same type.
Aristotle requires that there is no secondary substance jazz that is itself a substance. For Aristotle, being an animal counts as a substance. Why?
Operational Question: What is a principle? Operational Answer: A principle is a mental representation (idea) of an event—a mental representation of a causal or coincidental relationship between or among people, objects and/or events.
Operational Question: What is a technique? Operational Answer: A technique is a practical application of a principle, particularly a causal principle, for the purpose of solving a problem. 
“The most meaningful definitions in physics are those that are operational—that is, definitions that provide a means, at least in principle, for measuring whatever is being defined. After all, no matter how abstract a concept is, having an operational definition allows us to boil down its meaning to an experimental procedure for measuring its value.”
A Study of Aristotle's Four Ontological Predications
Aristotle analyzes the attributes for beings as being 'said of' or 'present in.' Scholars find that 'said of' is always said of something universal where the term can apply to numerous objects, whereas 'present in' always refers to something accidental or temporary, as Miles is playing jazz, which he is only going to be doing temporarily. Jazz playing, then is 'present in' Miles during his performance of jazz. Jazz playing, though, is not a necessary feature of Miles, while being an animal is. So, jazz playing by Miles is 'present in' him, but not 'said of' him, while being an animal is 'said of' him, according to Aristotle.
Using these two attributes, Aristotle recognizes four fundamental roles of being depending upon Categories whether or not they are accidental or universal. The four ontological statuses are determined by these four ways: (1) when something is “not 'said of' and not 'present in',” [primary substance] (2) when it is “not 'said of' but 'present in',” [abstract particulars] (3) or “'said of' yet not 'present in',” [secondary substance] and (4) those things both “'said of' as well as 'present in'.” [abstract universals]
But isn't jazz playing 'said of' Miles? Do we not SAY "Miles is playing jazz"? If we say it of Miles, then hasn't it been 'said of' Miles? Recall that to be 'said of' there must be a universal involved. Miles's way of playing Miles style jazz is unique to him. It is an abstract particular, whom some philosophers call a trope. Because this is a non-universal, it is not 'said of' Miles, rather it is 'present in' him.
What does it mean to say that something is “not 'said of' and not 'present in'.”? Aristotle's example is any individual person. All people are particulars that cannot be universals since they are not something (i.e., a property) that can be said of potentially multiple items. There can only ever be one Socrates as one primary substance since even should we qualitatively clone the original Socrates into a second cloned Socrates the new cloned Socrates would not be identical as an ontological item to the original Socrates, therefore there is no way to turn Socrates's Socratesness as a property of anything other than being identical to the original Socrates, as Aristotle conceives the situation metaphysically. It follows then that Socrates cannot be 'said of' anything since he/it is not a universal that can be 'said of.' Furthermore, Socrates cannot be 'present in' anything since his existence is not dependent on any other primary substance.
Our second group of Aristotelian ontologically determining predications, namely when it is the case that one can find what is “not 'said of' but is 'present in'” refer to something particular that can only be found in a specific primary substance (who are always such that nothing can be 'said of' or 'present in' them.) As an example, consider Socrates's own memories, which are particular and can only belong to Socrates, and are also 'present in' him because these memories cannot exist without Socrates and hence are dependent for their existence on the existence of Socrates.
Constitutive of the items described in a third group, “'said of' yet not 'present in'” are whenever a universal term itself gets referenced. Aristotle's example is mankind in general. A universal itself when referenced is not what exists in any one individual man and that means it is 'not present in', although Socrates is called a man which he has as an essential characteristic being a member of the class of mankind so it is 'said of' him.
Fourth—and last—are those things that can be both 'said of' while also being 'present in.' Anything B that is 'present in' requires the existence of a primary substance P of which it is true that B is 'present in' P. Aristotle's example of this fourth type is knowledge in general. Aristotle's knowledge is an abstract particular and it is present in him. Since his particular knowledge falls under the general category of being knowledge when one says Aristotle's knowledge is knowledge the second mention of "knowledge" presumably falls within Aristotle's fourth category so that ksecond knowledge predication is both said of Socrates's knowledge (saying if uses universal attribution) and it is present in Aristotle's knowledge since it is an accidental feature of Aristotle since he could come to cease to know it.
Although some new science may need a new category, Aristotle finds most sciences to have ten categories that delineate general aspects of primary substances. Of the “things that are 'said of'” Aristotle finds there are ten basic categories that include substance, quantity, quality, relation, place, time, situation, condition, action, and passion. The four-part system overlaps with the ten categories. For example, substances are divided into “'said of' and not 'present in'” and “not 'said of' and not 'present in'.” Aristotle calls substances that are "not 'said of'” and “not 'present in'” primary substances "because they underlie and are the subjects of everything else." So an individual person is an example of a primary substance. Secondary substances are “'said of' and not 'present in',” such as the general category of mankind given above.
"Action and passion," Catholic Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
Two of the ten Aristotelian categories of being; ποιε[symbol omitted]ν and πάσχει in Greek, actio and passio in scholastic Latin. The history of these concepts reveals a shift of emphasis between aristotle himself and modern Aristotelians. In Aristotle, action and passion are uniformly taken for granted. The Categories —presumably because action and passion are assumed to be obvious—merely give examples, "to lance," "to cauterize," "to be lanced," "to be cauterized" (2a, 3). The Physics is concerned directly with questions about motion, and detailed consideration of action is given only because of a difficulty based on the reality of action (202a, 16; 202b 22). The same is true in the Metaphysics, where the difficulty is based on the actuality of action (1050a, 30). Among the Greek and Latin commentators as well as in St. Thomas Aquinas there is no dissent with respect to Aristotle's answer to these difficulties, that action is in the "patient" or recipient of the action. However, St. Thomas does give an occasion for later controversies by devoting a separate, formal consideration to action as being in the patient (In 3 phys. 5), and by making incidental statements that seem to contradict Aristotle's opinion (for example, C. gent. 2.9; De pot. 7.9 ad 7, 7.10 ad 1, 8.2). These apparent contradictions escaped early Thomistic commentators and it was left to T. de Vio cajetan to uncover the latent difficulty—though, curiously enough, even this discovery was not based on the difficult texts (In Summa Theologiae 1a, 25.1). After Cajetan, the shift in emphasis of the discussion was complete and the focus then shifted to various theories with respect to the subject of inherence of action considered as an accident.
This brief history omits the opinion of John duns scotus (Oxon. 4.13.1) and the Scotists, who, considering action as an extrinsic relation to the patient, maintained against Aristotle that action is in the agent.
Definitions. Action and passion, in this context, are limited to the sphere of physical or predicamental action. Predicamental action, which constitutes the category of action, is regularly distinguished from "immanent action," which belongs to one of the species of quality. The former is often called "transient" (or "transitive") action, since it affects something outside the agent because of its nature, whereas immanent action perfects the agent itself. In general, predicamental or transient action has the meaning of physical activity—any activity that because of its nature brings about some change or motion in another body. Thus, pushing, striking, painting, and even feeding are transient actions; knowing, willing and feeling, on the other hand, are not (St. Thomas, C. gent. 1.100; In 9 meta. 8.1862–65; etc.).
Aristotle has a metaphysical theory of causation and of agency found in book VI of his "Metaphysics." St. Thomas Aquinas spells out how to present Aristotle on these questions of agency both directed inward or outward. An action directed outside of the agent are transient actions when because of its nature brings about some change or motion in another body, such as pushing, striking, painting, or feeding. Opposing the transient are actions turned inward aiding in perfecting an agent where by internal is meant concerned with a person's mind, or personal feelings both sensory and emotional, leading Aristotle to include acts of knowing, willing and feeling as immanent but never transient activities.
As described by Aquinas, transient actions include people's physical activities such as acts of pushing, striking, painting, or feeding. Transient actions are ones where Aristotle dictates that the change of motion in another body occurred because of the nature involved in agency. Your hand pushed on the tower and the nature of your hand as a physical object means it will impress a force upon the tower making it topple.
Jazz musician's typically perform the music using musical instruments where they blow into, or push down with fingers, toes, hands, or feet, onto drumheads, or saxophone or trumpet valves, or piano keys, or guitar strings, each of these are the result of agent's (the musicians), by virtue of their bodies and instruments being physical objects that resist each other's inter-penetration thereby meeting a requirement for being a transient cause.
On Aquinas's Aristotelian reading jazz performer's manipulation of musical instruments makes them have transient actions. What about immanent activities for jazz musicians while performing? Do they have any immanent acts occurring? Yes they do because such a musician utilizes knowledge, has feelings, and performs acts of will.
instruments usually are strummed, blown into and fingers alter pitches, feet or hands push down any activity that because of its nature brings about some change or motion in another body.
where that affecting the environment outside of the agent The former is often called "transient" (or "transitive") action, since it affects something outside the agent because of its nature, whereas immanent action perfects the agent itself. In general, predicamental or transient action has the meaning of physical activity—any activity that because of its nature brings about some change or motion in another body. Thus, pushing, striking, painting, and even feeding are transient actions; knowing, willing and feeling, on the other hand, are not.
According to Encyclopedia.com on action and passion,
In the older Aristotelian tradition (with the exception of the Scotists), it was generally accepted that Aristotle meant this predicamental action, when he said that the action is in the patient. His argument is straightforward: "A thing is capable of causing motion because it can do this, it is a mover because it actually does it. But it is only on the movable that it is capable of acting. Hence there is a single actuality of both" (Phys. 202a, 16–19). The conclusion is stated clearly in the Metaphysics in terms of a concrete example: "The act of building is in the thing being built" (1050a, 30).
Passion, in this understanding, is simply the reception of the single actuality, motion-action. The sole reality in all three—motion, action and passion—is the motion itself, though each is distinct from the others in definition (In 3 phys. 5.7, 5.10). Accordingly, in this straightforward view, action is defined simply as "motion from an agent"; passion, as "motion [received from an agent] in a patient."
It is clear that this doctrine has a direct bearing on the Aristotelian notion of efficient causality. An agent, according to St. Thomas, is denominated such, precisely because of its effect on the patient (In 3 phys. 5.15). It would also seem clear that such a notion, of the agents' being determined from the effects they produce, could be of service in responding to difficulties raised by D. hume against the perception of causality in the physical order.
Subject of Predicamental Action. The straightforwardness of Aristotle's view about the subject of inherence of predicamental action, is lost in controversies after the time of Cajetan. Cajetan did not deny Aristotle's single actuality of action and motion, nor did he deny that this actuality is in the patient; but he added a second actuality—the perfecting of the agent whereby it actually comes to affect something else—to it and it is this, he claims, that is essential to action as a category and is subjected in the agent (In ST, 1a, 25.1). This subtlety, distinguishing two actualities with respect to action, one in the patient and one in the agent, led to a new definition of action as "the second act by which an agent is rendered actually causing" [as opposed to first act, in which it is only a potential agent; see F. suÁrez, Disp. meta. 48.1.15–20 (Vivès, 26:872–873); john of st. thomas, Nat. phil 1.14.3–4 (Curs. phil. 2:304–305, 310)].
In the aftermath of Cajetan's formulation, three well-defined schools of thought have developed relative to the subject of inherence of transient action: (1) many Thomists (for example, ferrariensis, F. Suárez and P. fonseca) continued to maintain the older view, that action is in the patient and the view still has its proponents (T. S. McDermott); (2) at the opposite pole, some Thomists [for example, J. P. Nazarius (1555–1646) and S. maurus], followed the lead of Cajetan, holding that action in the true sense is not in the patient but in the agent and again the view has contemporary proponents (J. Gredt, Elementa philosophiae 1.281); (3) finally, John of St. Thomas developed an intermediate position, maintaining that action is both in the agent and the patient, though in different senses, a view that also has presentday proponents (W. D. Kane).
Arguments can be proposed both for and against each of these positions, as follows.
Action Is in the Patient. Two arguments are presented in favor of this position. The first is based on the authority of Aristotle and maintains that the doctrine that action is in the patient, was universally held (with the exception of the Scotists) up to the time of Cajetan. Aside from the slighting of the Scotist position, this argument has little force apart from its further doctrinal justification; it can easily be countered, as is implicitly done by Cajetan: the traditional doctrine is not denied, but only complemented by a further consideration that is not touched on explicitly by the older tradition (In ST 1a, 25.1.6).
The formal argument in favor of action as in the patient is more cogent. In one form or another, it usually recapitulates the argument of Aristotle: since the whole reality of action is motion as from an agent (it is defined as motus ab agente ), it follows that action will be found where motion is found. Therefore, since it is solid Aristotelian doctrine that motion is in its subject and not in the agent, action also must be in the subject (now denominated "patient," as receiving motion from the agent). The counterargument proposed against this is that this action is not denied, but it is not the essential constituent of predicamental action. Such a counterargument is not convincing in every way, if only because it is precisely this notion of action in the patient that St. Thomas uses to establish action in his derivation of the categories (In 3 phys. 5.15).
Action Is in the Agent. The first argument in favor of this view, proposed by Cajetan, is based on a difficulty in theology. All the divine perfections are in reality identified with the divine essence. If, therefore, the perfection of an agent is in the patient, it is difficult to see how the action of God producing effects in creatures without the intermediate cause can be identified with the divine essence. If, on the contrary, action is taken to be the perfection of the agent as actually causing it, the difficulty vanishes. It is hard to see this as a serious difficulty; the question here is clearly one of an action properly immanent and only virtually transient.
What then of the argument occasioned by this difficulty? It states that, because action is the perfection of the agent as actually (and no longer only potentially) causing it, it must be in the agent. Confirmation is sought from St. Thomas's statement that action is the actualization of a power (actualitas virtutis—ST 1a, 54.1).
As opposed to this it can be argued that: (1) the distinction between immanent and transient action cannot be adequately sustained in such a formulation; (2) St. Thomas finds no difficulty in placing the perfection of a power in its affecting something outside itself—he does precisely this, in fact, in order to distinguish transient from immanent action (In 9 meta. 8.1864); and (3) in Aristotelian doctrine the primary type of motion is local motion. In such motion it is difficult to see what added perfection a moving body would acquire by moving another body in a collision—obviously a most important case of the action of a physical agent.
Action Is in Both the Agent and the Patient. To this formulation is usually added: in the agent "inchoatively," in the patient "formally and terminatively [consummative ]." Before arguments can be proposed in favor of this position, the very terms in which it is stated must be clarified.
John of St. Thomas, the chief proponent of this view, explains the term "inchoatively" in two ways. First he says that it means "after the manner of an emanation" (though obviously he does not mean this to exclude a secondary aspect of inherence in a subject). Then he shows how it is possible for something to be in two subjects at once, provided that it is formally or simpliciter in only one, by appeal to the way in which a virtue can be in the will as imperating and yet at the same time be formally in the sense appetites (ST 1a, 2ae, 50.3; 56.2).
The terms "formally and terminatively" are then clear from the preceding account: action receives its ultimate formality in producing its effect in the patient, and this formality lies in the completing of the emanation from the agent in the patient.
In defending this position, John of St. Thomas feels that the principal burden falls on the defenders of action as only in the patient, to explain away the apparently contrary texts in St. Thomas and to show that an aspect in the agent is unnecessary. (He feels that the position of those holding for action in the agent need not lead them to deny that it is also in the patient, but only to affirm that it is in some way in the agent.) His refutations of arguments in favor of action as only in the patient can be reduced to a distinction between "action-as-effected" and "action-as-effecting," and he is forced to say that both Aristotle and St. Thomas, in the majority of texts, wished to lay such stress on the terminative and formal aspect that they passed over the inchoative or emanational aspect [Nat. phil. 1.14.3–4 (Curs. phil. 2:304–314)]. Such an argument seems odd for a professed Aristotelian and Thomist, and this aspect of the whole position can be countered by the same arguments proposed earlier against action as in the agent.
A Simpler Position. Finally, against all three positions adopted after the time of Cajetan, it can be objected that they are needlessly subtle and are based on a false notion of what is required to constitute a category (P. Hoenen, 237–247). This view has much to recommend it, both in its simplicity and its return to the traditional view. However, it must explain away the difficulties in St. Thomas's texts if it is to be completely successful as a Thomistic interpretation. In summary, this explanation runs as follows: For St. Thomas and the earlier scholastics in general, a purely extrinsic denomination—without any instrinsic form as foundation—was sufficient to establish the last six categories, and St. Thomas is explicit in affirming that action and passion are based on extrinsic denomination and not on any intrinsic form. Nevertheless, it is still the agent that is denominated by this extrinsic reality, and it is this aspect—the agent as denominated from its effect and as subject of predication—that is referred to whenever St. Thomas refers to action as in the agent (Hoenen, 245–246).
Importance. Whether in its simple or in its subtle form, this question has an important bearing on several areas of scholastic philosophy. One aspect, in the defense of a realistic view of causality against Hume, has already been touched upon. In addition, the theory has an important bearing on the proofs for the existence of God as an unmoved mover and on the way in which free agents move and are moved by God (see motion, first cause of). Further, the doctrine is of supreme importance both in explaining the difference between physical action, the acts of knowledge and affectivity, and in explaining the interaction of soul and body, knower and known, in psychology.
See Also: action at a distance.
Bibliography: p. h. j. hoenen, Cosmologia (5th ed. Rome 1956). t. s. mcdermott, "The Subject of Predicamental Action," Thomist, 23 (1960) 189–210. w. d. kane, "The Subject of Predicamental Action according to John of St. Thomas," ibid. 22 (1959) 366–388. j. a. mcwilliams, "Action Does Not Change the Agent," Philosophical Studies in Honor of the Very Rev. Ignatius Smith, ed. j. k. ryan (Westminster, Md. 1952) 208–221.
[p. r. durbin]
Actions as primary and secondary
“Category Trees: Each category can be thought of as having a tree structure. The category itself can be divided into its fundamental kinds (e.g., substance can be divided into plants and animals). Each of these kinds can in turn be divided (e.g., animal can be divided into the various broad genera of animals). Each of these can in turn be divided into the fundamental species of the category in questions (e.g., into such basic kinds as tiger, and horse, and human being). (All of these kinds—animal, tiger, horse—are what Aristotle calls “secondary substances”.) Finally, we can divide these lowest-level kinds into the basic individuals in the category (e.g., human being can be divided into Socrates, Callias, Coriscus, etc.).
Similarly, the category of quality can be divided into subcategories such as color, which can in turn be divided into red, green, etc. Aristotle thinks that these specific qualities can be further divided into individuals (analogous to individual substances) such as this individual bit of white. Thus, each category is ultimately divisible into the individual members of that category. Here’s a useful chart that illustrates the tree structure of the categories.” (bold not in original)
“Here’s some quasi-Aristotelian terminology: jazz is an action. My playing bebop jazz is a ‘primary’ action, while bebop jazz, jazz, music performances, … [up the division tree to] action are all ‘secondary’ actions.” (bold not in original)
Wittgenstein's Family resemblance problem and defining jazz
- Jazz and family resemblance issues pose a legitimate worry concerning successfully defining jazz.
Still, we mitigate the issue somewhat if we show that Wittgenstein's arguments for establishing family resemblance problems are themselves problematic, which they are. Wittgenstein believed that there could be no unified definition for the noun "game" because there is such a wide variety of games, such as darts, rugby, tennis, tiddlywinks, poker, jai alai, or chess. Wittgenstein's intuitive idea here is to find that there is so much diversity amongst all types of things labeled with the same noun that there could not be any unifying definition that each and every kind of game shares. Chess is played on a board; tennis uses rackets and a round ball; hockey players slap a puck on ice while wearing ice skates; dart players throw pointed missiles scoring points on a target; tiddlywinkers shoot plastic chips into cups; poker is a gambling card game involving winning and losing money, and so forth. The immense variety and properties of all of the things labeled as games strike one as so varied and diverse that it doesn't seem there could be something held in common by all of them.
But is this true? Contrary to Wittgenstein and supporters of the family resemblance theory, can we find a unifying definition for game? The definition must be such that items falling under the term "game" shares the features specified in the definiens and the answer is that there can be such a unifying definition. A game is "an activity directed toward bringing about a specific state of affairs, using only means permitted by specific rules, where the means permitted by the rules are more limited in scope than they would be in the absence of the rules, and where the sole reason for accepting such limitation is to make possible such activity" and every item listed above as a game satisfies this definition.
Any proposed definition of a game needs to determine which activities are included or excluded as games. The table below is somewhat daunting because many activities have features of games yet are not games. Two of those features are physical exercises or competitive ones, which many games have, yet numerous physical exercises or competitive activities fail to be games. Any proper definition of a game must correctly rule in and rule out such activities.
The table below was adapted and modified from a triple Venn diagram found at Mitchell N. Berman's "Sport As A Thick Cluster Concept," in Games, Sports, and Play: Philosophical Essays, ed. Thomas Hurka (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2019), 103.
NOTE: Click on any name in the table for its definition at Wikipedia.
COMPETITIVE(but not a game)
PHYSICAL EXERCISE(but not a game)
| Dungeons & Dragons
|Monopoly , Scrabble )|
|gin rummy )|
|High jump , 100 meters relay , javelin , hurdles )|| |
poker ♣️ ♦️ ♠️ ♥️
| hang gliding, caving, climbing|
|chutes & ladders, bingo )|
|fantasy basketball 🏀)|
make-believe (might not be a game)(e.g., playing house, cops 🚓 & robbers)
|baseball ⚾️ , American football 🏈 )|
Bernard Suits and defining game
Bernard Suits (1925-2007) believes Wittgenstein is incorrect about the impossibility of defining "game." There is no better counter-example than that of supplying a defended and well-argued for definition that includes all and only those items that are considered to be games. Suits's definition of game, minus his technical terminology, in his book The Grasshopper: Games, Life and Utopia (1978) reads as follows:
“To play a game is:
(1) to attempt to achieve a specific state of affairs,
(2) using only means permitted by the rules,
(3) where the rules prohibit use of more efficient in favour of less efficient means, and (4) where the rules are accepted just because they make possible such activity.” (p. 41, numbering added)
Definition of a game from Merriam Webster dictionary:
“A game is a physical or mental competition conducted according to rules with the participants in direct opposition to each other; the set of rules governing a game; competition between rivals; rivalry between two or more persons or groups for an object desired in common, usually resulting in a victor and a loser.” (bold not in original)
The Miriam Webster definition of "game" mentions at the end that games include winners and losers. University of Toronto philosopher Peter King finds this is crucial to defining games and an aspect that needs to be incorporated into Suit's definition of game for it to be successful at picking out all and only things that are indeed games.
“Bernard Suits memorably declares, is to engage in "the voluntary attempt to overcome unnecessary obstacles."' This slogan follows and encapsulates his longer and more exact account: To play a game is to attempt to achieve a specific state of affairs, using only means permitted by rules, where the rules prohibit use of more efficient in favour of less efficient means, and where the rules are accepted just because they make possible such activity.
Suits defends his account of playing games at length. Yet for all its virtues, it falls short with regard to winning and losing in two ways. First, Suits's account includes activities that are not games, since, as I shall argue, it is essential to games that there can be winners and losers. Second, it fails to recognize that winning is only one way to succeed, and losing only one way to fail, in a game; a player might strive to finish in second place, which perhaps requires a different strategy than trying to win, or alternatively a player might instead try for a draw or to force a stalemate rather than lose. These two claims are independent. You may hold that winning and losing are essential to games and nevertheless find Suits's treatment of winning and losing adequate; conversely, you may hold that the broader notions of success and failure in a game are useful but only applicable to some games, namely the proper subset of games that have winners and losers. (bold and bold italic not in original)
“This chapter argues for two independent but related theses: that it is an essential feature of games that there be winners and losers; and that winning and losing should be replaced with the more general notions of success and failure in a game. The first thesis has the consequence that many activities Suits countenances as games are not games but mere pastimes, easily confused with games since they can readily be turned into games. The second thesis tries to incorporate winning and losing into Suits’s account, arguing that the broader notions of success and failure are what his account needs—someone is still playing a game even if she tries to achieve the silver medal rather than the gold—which has the additional benefit of showing how the abstract analysis of games in terms of success and failure is linked to the strategies players adopt in playing the game.” (bold not in original)
Discuss the cobbled together as a non-natural kind, such as defining a swanado as anything that is either a swan or a tornado. What is the status? Is there something to be defined?
- See McKeown-Green and Justine Kingsbury on Disjunctive definitions.
So you can define non-natural kinds.
Have I defined anything if I say "Cringo" is defined as the next five thoughts that I have?
Discuss how you CAN define the mysterious, the amorphous, the mystical, the undefinable, and especially the ineffable!
Can self-contradictory things be defined?
- Is there a definition for a round-square?
If God is omniscient, is there anything he cannot define?
Musical genres cannot be defined using ONLY geographical or biographical information
Everyone likes to say that jazz's biographical and geographical origins are obscure and unknown to some extent. Suppose we did know everything one's heart desires about precisely who invented jazz biographically and geographically, but we are not permitted to say anything about the music during the presentation of this history that provides the origins of jazz in precise and exacting detail.
➢ Would this help to define jazz as a musical genre?
Give it a try. Let's say Jelly Roll Morton (Ferdinand LaMothe) (1890–1941) DID invent early jazz, as he claimed to have in 1902. At Wikipedia: Jelly Roll Morton, there is even a defense of the claim using quotations from Scott Yanow (b. 1954), Gunther Schuller (1925-2015), and Alan Lomax (1915-2002). He was born in 1890, and not 1885, as he sometimes claimed, into the Creole community in the Faubourg Marigny neighborhood of New Orleans, Louisiana. Here's his birth certificate and baptismal paperwork that shows the 1890 date (click to make big):
Suppose we know his piano teachers, but because we are under the restriction not to mention anything at all about the music, we do not know what these teachers taught him musically. In any event, he cannot have had too much instruction since he was already playing in brothels at the age of—perhaps as early as 12—and definitely by when only 14 in 1904. It also cannot be mentioned, since it is about music, that he often sang smutty songs in the New Orleans Storyville brothels that were recorded by Alan Lomax in 1938, but not entirely released until 2005 because of their smutty nature.
Wikipedia: Jelly Roll Morton tells us this about Morton's geography, songs he wrote, and people he played with or met early on who he might have influenced or himself been influenced by:
“Around 1904, Morton started touring in the American south, working in minstrel shows such as Will Benbow's Chocolate Drops, gambling, and composing. His songs "Jelly Roll Blues," "New Orleans Blues," "Frog-I-More Rag," "Animule Dance," and "King Porter Stomp" were composed during this period. Stride pianists James P. Johnson and Willie "The Lion" Smith saw him perform in Chicago in 1910 and New York City in 1911.
In 1912–1914, Morton toured with his girlfriend Rosa Brown as a vaudeville act before living in Chicago for three years. By 1914, he was putting his compositions on paper. In 1915 "Jelly Roll Blues" was one of the first jazz compositions to be published. Two years later, he went to California with bandleader William Manuel Johnson and Johnson's sister Anita Gonzalez.”
See the extensive research on Jelly Roll Morton's history at Monrovia Sound Studio.
At the end of all of this, has anything been learned about what is jazz or how to play it? Can we now distinguish jazz as a genre of music from other kinds? It doesn't seem possible since all we know about jazz in this restricted context is who the musicians were and what they were doing, and where we can locate them in space and time. Since these features are true of every musician in any musical genre, these features are not useful by themselves in characterizing the nature of any specific genre of music, including jazz.
CONCLUSION: To define jazz as a music genre distinguishable from others requires using jazz's musical features and not merely its performer's properties and non-musical history.
The paradox of only using biography and geography for defining jazz
If Duke Ellington proclaims that his orchestra never played jazz, which he gets close to doing when he says he does not like the word "jazz," and there are only two kinds of music—good and bad, should we believe him? Even better, is it true? Even much better, it is incumbent upon philosophers of jazz to determine methods to answer such questions.
Assuming that Ellington had complex motivations, most probably justifiable ones, for denying his music to be jazz does not make it any more accurate. It is up to historians and theorists of jazz to evaluate and assess this Ellingtonian claim's merits. We cannot just take his word on it since he could be wrong. Furthermore, even if he is correct that his orchestra did not play jazz, we want to know reasons for believing this is true. One way to determine its truth is to provide arguments in favor of or against the relevant sides and positions. Additionally, objections and replies can also lead to insight about how to judge such claims.
The problem if one attempts to define jazz using only biographical and geographical information is that there then is no answer to the question how do the investigators know that these musicians in these regions played jazz instead of something else? They are forbidden to respond because of its absurdity and because it begs the question that these musicians must have been playing jazz because of who they were and where they were located in space and time since these features hold for all musicians regardless of genre played. All musicians of any genre are always situated in space and time, so only knowing locations and times cannot distinguish between music genres. The same musicians in the same geographical areas can play two different genres of music at other times. Knowing when were the two times by itself cannot determine what genre of music musicians were playing. More information is needed to judge what genre was played when.
There are several different meanings/usages of the word "paradox." Wikipedia: Paradox specifies two primary meanings:
“A paradox, also known as an antinomy, is a logically self-contradictory statement or a statement that runs contrary to one's expectation. (bold not in original)
In the above example, we have the second usage where a paradox "challenges one's expectations." The expectation was to define jazz solely in biographical and geographical terms. Yet, it turns out one must know what jazz is independently of biography and geography to determine who should be included in the biographies and geographies, making it impossible to decide which musicians were playing jazz and thereby violating one's expectations to define jazz using only biography and locations.
Being self-contradictory is the first usage of paradox mentioned by Wikipedia. The conception of paradox as self-contradiction applies here since the approach to defining jazz using only biography and geography is self-contradictory. Without already knowing, independent of biography and geography, which musicians are playing jazz, one cannot pick out jazz musicians and their biographies and geographies, so it is self-contradictory to try. The contradiction is of the form "P and not P." P is "jazz can be defined using only biography and geography." Since one cannot do so without already knowing what jazz music is to distinguish which musicians at which locations are playing jazz, it is also true that not P, i.e., "jazz cannot be defined using only biography and geography."
- "What is a definition?", Unified Compliance Framework® (UCF®).
- "Extension and Intension," The Oxford Dictionary of Philosophy, (2nd rev. ed.), ed. Simon Blackburn (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2008) at Oxford Reference.
- William T. Perry and Edward A. Hacker, Aristotelian Logic, "Definition," (Albany, N.Y.: State University of New York Press, 1991): 115.
“Limitations of Extensional Definition. Undoubtedly an extensional definition, in many cases, is a simple and satisfactory way to answer the question ‘‘What does this word mean?’’ For example, if a young boy asks his father ‘‘What is a wombat?’’ or ‘‘What does ‘wombat’ mean?’’, the father can point to a picture of a wombat in a dictionary and reply ‘‘This is a wombat’’. Such an answer, of course, would be unsatisfactory if the question were asked by a zoologist who wanted to know the classification of wombats in terms of genus, family, and so on.
The meaning of some expressions is difficult if not impossible to communicate by the method of extensional definition. And the definer may find himself in a situation that limits or prevents the use of extensional definitions for certain words.
The following is a list of some common cases in which the use of extensional definitions (ostensive and/or citational) is limited or prevented:
(i) Examples not perceptually present. An ostensive definition of a word is impossible if no denotatum of the word is perceptually present. The absence of mutually known denotata may limit the usefulness of a citational definition. For instance, although the expression ‘‘turquoise blue’’ can be citationally defined, if no turquoise blue objects are present and the definer can think of no objects of this color that the audience has seen, then the examples cited will be to no avail.
(ii) Expressions that have no observable denotata, no known denotata, or no denotata at all. Terms such as ‘‘irrational number,’’ "mind,’’ and ‘‘idea" cannot be extensionally defined, since they do not name any observable object. Also there are terms such as ‘‘martian’’ whose denotata (if any) are unknown, hence no examples can be presented or described. Expressions such as ‘ideal gas' denote nothing and cannot be represented pictorially. Also form words (syncategorematic words) such as “‘if’’, ‘‘to’’, ‘‘therefore’’, ‘‘but’’, "and’’, and so on, have no denotata—form words are not intended to name objects; therefore they cannot be extensionally defined.
(iii) Ambiguity of the examples. In most cases of extensional definitions, the examples cited or presented have many properties in common. In such cases, the listener is not sure which property or set of properties is being referred to.” (bold not in original)
- Brian Leiter, "Analytic philosophy."
- Wikipedia: "Persuasive definition, first paragraph.
- A connection between operational definitions and dispositions is made by Arthur Pap in his article "Disposition Concepts and Extensional Logic" (1958).
“For the definiens of an operational definition is a conditional whose antecedent describes a test operation and whose consequent describes a result which such an operation has if performed upon a certain kind of object under specified conditions. A concept which is operationally defined in this sense may be called a "disposition concept."” (bold not in original)
(Arthur Pap, "Disposition Concepts and Extensional Logic," in Herbert Feigl, Michael Scriven, & Gordon Maxwell (eds.), Minnesota Studies in the Philosophy of Science, vol. 2 (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1958): 198. Reprinted in Dispositions, ed. Raimo Tuomela (Dordrecht, Holland: D. Reidel Publishing Co., 1978) as a hardback, then as a paperback as, Dispositions, ed. Raimo Tuomela (Dordrecht, Holland: Springer Netherlands, 2010). For more good work on dispositions see the anthology Dispositionalism: Perspectives from Metaphysics and the Philosophy of Science, ed. Anne Sophie Meincke (Cham, Switzerland: Springer-Verlag, 2020).
- "Limitations of definition," Wikipedia: Definition.
- Robert D. Coleman, "What is Circular Reasoning?, Harvard Business School, 2006.
- Staffan Angere, "The Square Circle, Metaphilosophy, (January, 2017): 7.
- Paul Studtmann, "Aristotle's Categories, "2. The Ten-Fold Division, 2.1 General Discussion," in Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, 5th and 6th paragraphs, 2013.
- S. Marc Cohen, "Aristotle's Metaphysics," "9. Substance and Definition," in Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, 2nd and 3rd paragraphs, 2016.
- Aristotle, "Categories" (2a13), quoted at Wikipedia: Substance theory, translated by J. L. Ackrill.
- S. Marc Cohen, "Aristotle's Metaphysics," Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, 2016.
- S. Marc Cohen,"Substances,"A Companion to Aristotle, , ed. Georgios Anagnostopoulos, (Oxford: Blackwell Pub., 2009): 197–198.
- Gareth B. Mathews, "Aristotelian Categories," A Companion to Aristotle, ed. Georgios Anagnostopoulos, (Chichester, West Sussex: Blackwell Publishing, Wiley-Blackwell, first edition, March 5, 2013), 146-147.
- Stasinos Stavrianeas (University of Patras), "Review of Aristotle and the Metaphysics by Vasilis Politis," Philosophical Books, (January, 2007). DOI: 10.1111/j.1468-0149.2007.432_1.x.
- Vasilis Politis, Routledge Philosophy GuideBook to Aristotle and the Metaphysics, (London & New York: Routledge, 2004,) 114.
- Cynthia Freeland, "Aristotle's CATegories."
- Jacques Bailly, "Category theory," University of Vermont student handout.
- George Rudebusch, "Aristotelian Predication, Augustine, and the Trinity," The Thomist: A Speculative Quarterly Review, vol. 53 no. 4, October, 1989, 587-597. Project MUSE, DOI:10.1353/tho.1989.0002.
- Metaphysics by Aristotle – Book V, Part 6
- Frank A. Lewis, "Substances, Accidents, and Kinds: Some Remarks on Aristotle's Theory of Predication," "II. Accidents and Kinds in the Metaphysics—A Reversion to Platonism?," For the Meeting of the Society for Ancient Greek Philosophy, December 29, 1984, 3.
- Aristotle, Prior Analytics, Chapter 33/A33, 47b29-37.
- Aristotle, and W. D. Ross, Aristotle's Metaphysics, "Metaphysics, Book V," (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1981), Part 9, first paragraph.
- Wikipedia: "Categories (Aristotle)," eighth paragraph.
- Tony Crisp, "Aristotle on dreams," Dreamhawk website. Accessed June 7, 2020.
- Wikipedia: Agent (grammar), second paragraph.
- Brian Greene, The Elegant Universe (New York, NY: Vintage Books, Random House, Inc. 2000), 249.
- S. Marc Cohen, "Predication and Ontology: The Categories," "6. Category Trees."
- S. Marc Cohen, "Predication and Ontology: The Categories."
- Bernard Suits, "What Is a Game?," Philosophy of Science, Vol. 34, No. 2 (June, 1967), 156.
- See the following footnote for these same readings listed by bullet points: Thomas M. Malaby, "Beyond Play: A New Approach to Games," Games and Culture 2, (2007), 95-113; Colin McGinn, Truth by Analysis: Games, Names, and Philosophy, (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2012); Klaus V. Meier, "Triad Trickery: Playing with Sport and Games," Journal of the Philosophy of Sport 15, (1988), 11-30; Kieran Setiya, "The Ant and the Grasshopper," Ideas of Imperfection, 2008; Ernest Sosa, Epistemology, (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2017); Bernard Suits, "The Detective Story: A Case Study of Games in Literature," Canadian Review of Comparative Literature 12, (1985), 200-19 and "Tricky Triad: Games, Play, and Sport," Journal of the Philosophy of Sport 15, (1988), 1-9 and The Grasshopper: Games, Life, and Utopia, 3rd ed., (Peterborough, ON: Broadview Press, 2014). Earlier editions were (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1978), and (ind ed.,) (Peterborough, ON: Broadview Pres, 2005); Thomas Hurka and John Tasioulas, "Games and the Good," Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society, Supplementary Volumes, Vol. 80 (2006), 217-235+237-264; Ludwig Wittgenstein, Philosophical Investigations, translated by G.E.M. Anscombe, (Oxford: Blackwell, 1953).
● Thomas M. Malaby, "Beyond Play: A New Approach to Games," Games and Culture 2, (2007): 95-113.
● Colin McGinn, Truth by Analysis: Games, Names, and Philosophy, (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2012).
● Klaus V. Meier, "Triad Trickery: Playing with Sport and Games," Journal of the Philosophy of Sport 15, (1988): 11-30.
● Kieran Setiya, "The Ant and the Grasshopper," Ideas of Imperfection, 2008.
● Ernest Sosa, Epistemology, (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2017).
● Bernard Suits, "The Detective Story: A Case Study of Games in Literature," Canadian Review of Comparative Literature 12, (1985): 200-19.
● Bernard Suits, "Tricky Triad: Games, Play, and Sport." Journal of the Philosophy of Sport 15, (1988): 1-9.
● Bernard Suits, The Grasshopper: Games, Life, and Utopia, 3rd ed., (Peterborough, ON: Broadview Press, 2014). Earlier editions were (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1978), and (ind ed.,) (Peterborough, ON: Broadview Pres, 2005).
● Thomas Hurka and John Tasioulas, "Games and the Good," Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society, Supplementary Volumes, Vol. 80 (2006): 217-235+237-264.
● Ludwig Wittgenstein, Philosophical Investigations, translated by G.E.M. Anscombe, (Oxford: Blackwell, 1953).
- Bernard Suits, "What Is a Game?," Philosophy of Science, Vol. 34, No. 2 (June, 1967), 148-156.
- Definition of "game", Merriam Webster dictionary.
- Peter King, "Winning, Losing, and Playing the Game," Games, Sports, and Play: Philosophical Essays, ed. Thomas Hurka, Oxford Scholarship Online: (October 2019), 33. Print ISBN-13: 9780198798354. DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780198798354.001.0001.
- Peter King, Abstract of "Winning, Losing, and Playing the Game," Games, Sports, and Play: Philosophical Essays, ed. Thomas Hurka, Oxford Scholarship Online: (October 2019). Print ISBN-13: 9780198798354. DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780198798354.001.0001.
- "Jelly Roll Morton - Biography," Wikipedia: Jelly Roll Morton.
- Wikipedia: Paradox, opening sentence.